Read my article about Bertolf below the videos. This session was recorded at the beautiful Museum De Fundatie in Zwolle.
But, as probably many others and I secretly were hoping, it didn’t take too long before Bertolf started writing songs that were not meant for Color Reporters, but for a future solo record. Earlier this year he recorded them with producer Martijn Groeneveld at the Mailmen Studio in Utrecht, and last Friday First & Then was released.
And thank god he didn’t stay on hiatus for too long, because it would be a huge waste of talent. This album picks up where the last one ended and is another beautiful record by one of the most talented songwriters I’ve ever filmed and known. There are too many great songs on there to name all of them, but every songwriter around should and would be grateful if they only ever wrote one or two songs like First & Then, Wrinkles or Heart Shaped Hands. Or any of the twelve, for that matter.
Bertolf calls this his coming of age record; he writes about getting older, becoming a father and leaving behind some of his insecurities, about learning new things and forgetting others. Whether to be cynical or naive, or both. Listening to this record feels like you’re getting to know Bertolf, you’re almost right there in his living room watching him on his couch with a guitar, writing these songs.
But don’t you think it’s rather sad
That time’s not the greatest adviser
You learn as much as you forget
And in the end you won’t be much wiser
– First & Then
Last Wednesday and Thursday Bertolf played two release shows, in Zwolle and Amsterdam – with Theo Sieben (Paulusma) in his band, by the way – and I’m probably overdoing it with the superlatives but they were spot on. The band played the entire record, completed with some older songs and a couple of covers, and they didn’t lose the crowd’s attention for a single moment. So many good musicians on one stage, playing these songs, what can go wrong?
Anyway, this session. We were honoured that Museum De Fundatie in Zwolle, where Bertolf lives, agreed to let us film on a day they were closed. We filmed the covers in a room with paintings of the Dutch artist and writer Jan Cremer, and also the originals in the elliptically shaped superstructure on the roof – called The Eye, or The Cloud – with a brilliant view on the city. We filmed more songs than I feel I can throw on you at once, so we’ll start with the three covers plus First & Then. The other videos will follow in the weeks to come.
There’s no better way to tell the story of this record and musician than through his own words, so I’m ending this article with a another couple of lines from the title track:
First you lose yourself to wonder
Then you think you’re in control
Next the more you know the more you ponder
And then you learn to let it go
First they teach you to be patient
Then you learn there’s not much time
Next you no longer want to hurry
And then you try to just enjoy the ride
Oh, you try to just enjoy the ride
Yeah, you try to just enjoy the ride
All photos by Matthijs van der Ven.
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Session by Bertolf in 2009
Museum De Fundatie, Zwolle