Album Review: Vanderzee – Divergent

Vanderzee is a classical guitarist turned experimental producer based in the Catskills of New York, USA. He’s just come to my attention thanks to his debut album Divergent.

By Graeme Smith

In this debut, Vanderzee shows us who he is – the good and the bad. Across its fourteen tracks, we get hopefulness, self-doubt and more genres than you can shake a stick at. The album opens with Take the Leap. An isolated bass riff develops into experimental blues and country. The vocals are wonderfully smooth and soulful. It’s a powerful start.

Something to Say takes a left turn into hyper-pop, complete with distorted vocals and driving guitar riffs. Do It For Now is an undefinable, emotional wonder while The Chance to Slow Down is dreamy, textured and meditative. Let It All Out is a moody, electronic jazz highlight.

Guided Meditation returns us to hyper-pop and ups the tempo while retaining the meditative message. Go For A Walk brings with it rousing percussion and pleading vocals. I Feel Amazing is a short and intense witch house moment before Don’t Count Me Out takes us into emo rock territory. The genre-switching in Divergent is quite breath-taking!

I Mean It introduces some dreamy pop rock. Sit Here and Be is sample-heavy and lyrically vulnerable. Disappear is a jangly rock track that’s performed live and we get that wonderful rawness that comes with that. Watcha Gonna Do gives us quiet, reflective hyper-pop before The Coming Day closes the album with lively, anthemic rock. It’s another highlight.

You’ll not hear another album like Vanderzee’s Divergent. There are so many diverse genres packed in that to try and label it would be fruitless. What’s consistent, though, is its strong sense of emotion and its lyrical themes. It’s a story of light and dark that will have you feeling every note and word. When you write a gripping tale, it doesn’t matter what musical genre you use to deliver it.

You can check out Divergent below.