Australian Review oct 2008

31 October 2008 – The

When someone mentions Gumbo, I automatically think of Louisiana… well more specifically New Orleans, the French quarter, Bourbon street and its live jazzy tunes spreading through the streets… oh, how I miss it. So when our editor gave the list of CDs to pick from, Mmm… Gumbo? along with the description of Dutch jazzy pop got me curious. Well I am going to confirm that Room Eleven’s Mmm… Gumbo? is definitely jazzy, it is definitely pop and they are from The Netherlands so they are in fact Dutch. But as the opening track begins, Hey Hey Hey! just simply reminds me of New Orleans… in the 1920s. The energetic marching vibe which sounds like it is coming out of a gramophone only to be broken by a little piano vocal solo which reminds me of Regina Spektor. Still the energy leaves me wanting more only to be quickly brought down by the slow number of What will it Be? which could be added to the Norah Jones collection… until they speed it up by adding an acoustic guitar and clapping which turns this jazz into a Spanish record. I like it.

I also like the next track Lalala Love. No I retract that statement I LOVE Lalala Love and is definitely my favourite track in the whole disc. All the elements in this track is just brilliant; it’s quirky, starts of slow then gets you bopping, dabbling in French plus German (and some actual Dutch) then add some backing vocal styles, a piano solo and a drum solo that definitely takes you back to the 1920s. But wait there is more get ready for some kazoo! That’s right I said kazoo (ok it probably wasn’t a kazoo but a trumpet with a mute but hey isn’t it just amusing to think of a kazoo player marching down the streets strutting their stuff?!) and before you know it is all over. Now how can you follow that? Well Room Eleven couldn’t so I have nothing to say about Looking at my Feet- though I do like the use of piano scales that has a spiralling notion of insanity.

Considering I spent a good portion just raving on about one track here is the gist of the record- it’s great the sound is somewhat nostalgic but seeing as I wasn’t born in the 1920s or 1930s this also seems fresh. The track Swimmer is reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens with the love of simplistic acoustic guitar. Ode has a brilliant piano introduction that has you fooled into thinking we have switched from jazz to classical but then the drums come in and you almost want to sing Zoot Suit Riot! Not Jealous uses an accordion and even though it is supposed to be a dark piece remarking on relationships I start picturing a couple in a French restaurant- yes I know… how cliché of me.

I think if I ever decided to be in a band I’d probably be something reminiscent of Room Eleven- Always is a great reason why as they worked in a ukulele (now the ukulele isn’t the reason WHY I want to be in a band I’m just saying it is another instrument to add to their long list of variety- how often do you read the credits to state “foot stomps” or “hand claps”?) Plus the great thing about it all is that the chorus is an easy one for the crowd to learn quickly and sing along to (and clap to! They can be part of the band as well)

Oh and by the way. I checked and it was a kazoo on track three. Genius!