Working as a cooperate pilot for an international business aviation company Jan Lievaart is probably and currently better known around the world as Captain Jan. Well, certainly this would be the case from an air traffic controller’s perspective as they utilise the communication parlance needed to safely get an aircraft airborne, follow a flight path and then deliver a plane back safely to the ground. However, the moniker ‘Long Tall J’ is almost certainly going to soon be as equally recognisable in rock music circles due to the fact Jan subsequently has renewed his interest, in making and producing his own music. Incidentally the title “Mr Long Tall Jan Lievaarrt” came about during his early musical years when treading the boards, in his native Holland, playing with a variety of different bands.
Jan, now residing in London with his Polish wife, despite his ongoing relationship with all things aviation, has rekindled his love for playing the guitar and working on new musical arrangements and tunes for his recent spate of self-produced albums. The degree of his interest in this direction being amply displayed with the enormous volume of self-penned music he has composed and subsequently delivered on his two albums that were released in 2020. The first entitled Albatross" in February 2020 and his second album in December entitled ‘2020’, the subject of this review:-
This eleven-track, mostly instrumental styled, album entitled ‘2020’ is loosely conceptual with the title order of the tracks, in chronological fashion, roughly following the events of the ‘Covid 19’ pandemic. However, the music itself, with minimal vocal interpretation, could seriously grace a multitude of different subjects and/or their related themes. There is a fascinating compositional style to the entire body of music inasmuch that each track is packed with a myriad of interconnecting layers with different musical passages that continuously sprinkle out to the fore. In fact there is such an overwhelming preponderance of musical ideas suggesting that the overall number of tracks could easily have been split up and trebled. But such a comprehensive format as employed here certainly results in a high degree of listening interest especially wondering in which direction the music will take us off too next. (No aviation pun intended).
The central core programming of drums and keyboards have been truly well constructed, thought out and planned thus providing a solid and interesting platform for the various and exceedingly numerous guitar passages. Such passages which form the melodic heart of the individual songs. Secondary to the guitar interpolations are swathes of keyboard decorations that add a certain flamboyance to the music without outshining the guitar contributions. Interesting too are a whole host of different musical interpretations that have been integrated such as Celtic, rock ’n roll and folk in fact too many to count. In addition, there are many countermelodies generated by a complexity of guitar or keyboard. There are in parts within the entire score that expel a certain ‘Mike Oldfield ‘vibe with some tricky multi-instrumental layering. The whole enterprise clearly being a complex studio mixing undertaking.
Whether it was out of choice or due to restrictions in social mixing but the vocal input was limited to two tracks only. Ukrainian singer ‘Amariia’ has a beautiful voice and the song selected for her suited her voice well. The desire to showcase a wide variation in style and compositional ability is understandable but the only weak point on the album for me was the track ‘White Lightening’, which sounded quite out of place and not the best use of ‘Stan Verbraak’s strong vocal contribution.
There is no doubt that ’LongTall J’ is an extremely superb guitarist and in addition a master music arranger. Such talents that would be a much wanted and a very desirable commodity in the music business as a whole. However, the current correlation between the rewards achievable in the ‘Aviation industry’ compared to those in the ’Music industry’, in these Covid raked times, renders such a thought simply wishful thinking. In the meantime we can look forward to more polished and enjoyable projects from Jan.
1 - Lockdown 05:40
2 - Got a Loving Fire (feat. Amariia) 04:17
3 - Jeff are you Beck?
4 - But it Matters 03:41
5 - Wonders of the World 04:30
6 - White Lightning (feat. Stan Verbraak) 03:41
7 - Groovy 06:07
8 - Life as it is 07:26
9 - Beat the Logic (feat. Emily V) 03:14
10 - The Thunberg Effect 05:55
11 - Star 08:59
Total time: 57:27
Private Press Mastered in Kyiv, Ukraine at the Soncesvit studio with Ivan Luzan.