The Common Linnets may have come a close second to Conchita Wurst at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, but in terms of the UK audience, they were the commercial winner.
While the contest’s winner charted at #17 with Rise Like A Phoenix, in the same week Calm After The Storm peaked at #9. While the Austrian performer waited a year to release an album, which failed to enter the UK Top 100, the Dutch country outfit wasted little time and managed to chart at #40.
Throw into the mix a series of sold out shows and it is fair to say that Ilse DeLange and her crew have faired well on these shores. Almost two years after their initial success, can they build on these foundations with album II.
Their sophomore effort certainly deserves to see their success flourish. Building on the lilted country sound of Ilse’s own solo career and the harmony drive of their debut, II is an easy on the ears collection that carefully treads the country pop boundary, with enough of a trad feel to ensure they draw in the old school country fans too.
While her Eurovision co-star Waylon may have left the outfit in the immediate aftermath of the competition, The Common Linnets are no weaker for his absence and his replacement Jake Etheridge makes an impressive mark on II.
Opening with the determined lead single We Don’t Make The Wind Blow, which has seen them deservedly make waves on national radio. Ilse’s vocal blends wonderfully with her band and they immediately have you singing along with your arms swaying wonderfully in sync with the infectious rhythm.
With Jake’s voice brought to the fore on That Part, the vocal marriage with Ilse is very reminiscent of the group’s breakout single. This is one that will get Eurovision fans excited, while winning brownie points with fans of the wonderful Civil Wars.
As a collection II does not disappoint. While there are no lowlights, there are clear highlights. The winsome storytelling of Runaway Man, the tender finger plucking of Days of Endless Time and the explosive Walls of Jericho are all instant classics.
However it is in the understatement of the emotional closer Proud that The Common Linnets really shine. While many a vocalist would have overblown the composition with powerhouse vocals, the reigned in approach is a real winner.
The Common Linnets had a lot to prove with their sophomore effort. Far from riding on the crest of a wave, the albums shows that they are an act that are worthy of the hype and who have a long, prosperous future ahead of them.