Double Disc Set by Urban Tulsa Weekly
When a band forms, its members usually think it will last forever -- me and my band of brothers out to conquer the world. Later, reality sets in and the group inevitably splinters with members going their separate ways.
Those who really have something special, however, march on unfazed, and, if they're lucky, find an enduring chemistry. For some, the process is disheartening. For others, it steels their resolve to move forward with their musical endeavors.
It appears that we've found a pair of young, like-minded acts that are celebrating a dual CD release party this weekend at The Marquee, 222 N. Main. Van Risseghem and Astellaway may approach it from different angles, but each represents an engaging and positive take on indie pop with its respective CDs.
Perhaps most intriguing is the full-length debut from Van Risseghem. This is Jonathan Van Risseghem's baby, allowing him to present his songs more completely than his solo acoustic shows have afforded him.
Easily one of the most engaging pop records to emerge in the first quarter of the year, Van Risseghem's The Motions combines elements form the singer/songwriter, pop and soul genres to create a sound that's familiar but not pinned down. The project edges closer to the sound and style of early Hero Factor (perhaps due to the layered keyboards or to the understated vocals); but more often than not, it's a mélange that can't be defined.
That was my main goal with this CD," Jonathan said. "When people ask what Van Risseghem sounds like, I say, 'For it to be indefinable.' The goal was to not sound like this or that. Kind of like if someone asks what Kansas sounds like -- it just sounds like Kansas, like The Beatles sound like The Beatles.
Part of what I'm proud of is this is a record that my grandparents like -- and sincerely like the music, not just because it's their grandson and they're proud of me," he continued. "At the same time, it's also a record that my little sister likes, someone who listens to totally different stuff.
The nine songs on The Motions do cover a broad swath of styles. When asked about influences and what he listens to, Van Risseghem said, "I listened to a lot of Paul Simon when I was recording this. And Brit rock, like Radiohead and Remy Zero, and a lot of R&B -- old, '60s and '70s R&B that has a good sense of melody and rhythm.
Like Otis Redding," he continued, explaining his love for classic rhythm and blues. "I remember the first time I heard 'Sitting on the Dock of the Bay' when I was 16 or 17 years old. It just captured that mood so perfectly and did it with such a dang good melody.
As you might surmise, melodies are essential to Van Rissghem's material, but the real strength is in the overall songwriting and structures. As a multi-instrumentalist who can play guitar, piano, bass and a number of other instruments, Jonathan is secure in his writing and playing, with a clear sense of direction.
Songwriting should be of the nature, that, if you can play it with one instrument or play it with 90, it would still be a good song either way," Jonathan said.
After playing with other bands, Jonathan decided to strike out on his own roughly a year ago. He has since played a number of solo acoustic gigs while writing and recording his debut CD. With the new album complete, he has now assembled a band to perform the songs in a more expanded form.
Beyond the song structures, however, are thoughtful lyrics with spiritual undertones. Jonathan said that he grew up in church and ended up in Tulsa when the family moved for his father to attend Rhema. As a result, faith is a strong theme in his songs without being overbearing.
Instead of sounding preachy, Jonathan was more interested in vocalizing his faith in a manner accessible to anyone. "Everyone knows what it's like to feel like you're not living up to standards and most people can relate to feeling love beyond infatuation," he said. "I just tried to share that so these songs could be played in bars and still appreciated.
Artist Feature - Jan/Feb Edition by Relevant Magazine
Perhaps it’s something about the excessively commercial nature of pop music these days that make people want to reach back in time or, maybe it is just the music itself – spirited, direct, colorful... Whatever it might be, Van Risseghem taps that energy of yesterday’s music with its tones and rhythms, producing a rich-textured sound topped off with an engaging vocal delivery. He joins these solid arrangements with ear catching melodies comparable to any chart topper of today’s music.
Van Risseghem has been featured in nationwide AMC and Cinemark theaters, featured as Delta Airlines’ boarding entertainment for worldwide flights, and recently received the Hollywood Music In Media Awards. Van Risseghem's songs are also featured on The Edge compilation CD, the Hollywood Music In Media Awards compilation CD, and voted for K-Hits Listener's Choice.
We know that you’ll enjoy the vivid organic tones and heartfelt lyrics of The Motions, because we’re not alone - checkout the pages of enthusiastic listener comments at music websites like thesixtyone.com and LastFM.com. Even with his latest offering, He is No Stranger, Van Risseghem has composed a masterful celebration of the advent. This release is crafted with the help of percussionist Kristen Howald’s hammered dulcimer, and touches of glockenspiel. He is No Stranger – is beautifully produced demonstrating an ethereal quality which will literally change your CD rotation.
Artist Feature by College News Magazine
I find it hard to believe I found another male solo artist worth reviewing, but here I am yet again, excited to introduce you to singer / songwriter Jonathan Van Risseghem.
Oklahoma resident Van Risseghem’s (pronounced Riss-egg-hem) March debut The Motions creates enough separation between the rest of the alternative pop genre to warrant your consideration. As Risseghem himself sings on the track “Peace of Mind,” “I’m not your typical guy but if you’d come on and give me a try I guarantee to make it worth your while.” He definitely comes through on that promise.
Vocally, Jonathan has a pleasant, light quality akin to James Blunt. Dissimilarly, he has better control, is more practiced and has a better overall sound. And unlike Blunt, I never feel like Risseghem will put me to sleep. He’s engaging, spirited, and obviously talented, providing the vocals, guitars, bass, and keyboards on the album.
“Love, Again” jump-starts the disc with a powerpop injection, hooking listeners with its introductory electric guitar riffs. The promise shown from this track alone is enough to earn the rest of the album a listen.
The Motions’ acoustically charged title track is certainly worth of national attention and airplay, showing off Risseghem’s vocal talent and delivering a worthwhile message of keeping your head up. If you need pick a single selection off the album, try this one.
“Peace of Mind” effectively merges the alternative, pop and rock genres into a catchy and up-tempo piece. About chasing and failing to catch a girl’s attention, the song is easily relatable and could serve as a more positive post-rejection man anthem. (Because we need one every once in a while, despite death metal’s healing ability.)
In spite of numerous songs about love and those related fuzzy feelings, Van Risseghem’s lyrics use a very unique syntax paired with a wonderful sense of pace and style. When paired with his original alternative songwriting, The Motions stands out as a welcome oddity among similar artists’ efforts.
Jonathan will be performing at the St. Louis Music Festival on September 17th, 18th and 19th. On the 22nd, he is filming a performance on the Tulsa, Oklahoma late night talk show Up Late with Ben Sumner. Keep up with his MySpace page for more appearances, videos and other Risseghem-related information.
If you need no further convincing, you can pick up a digital copy of Van Risseghem’s highly recommended The Motions on iTunes, Amazon or other digital retailers.