Here is a truly magical song from AUK favourite VanWyck. This video, recorded live at TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, really showcases the astonishing beauty of ‘The Dragon’ and it’s subtle sense of timeless mystery. Christine Oele, who performs as VanWyck, possesses an incredible voice and, here, she demonstrates her range and emotional resonance. The performance is as ethereal and transporting as the lyrics about riding a metaphorical dragon and the fearful idea of trying to control a force that is stronger than love: “I’ll be waiting here below you // Will try to catch you when you fall // But you’re moving so damn fast babe // Don’t think I can keep up // He’s faster than me, stronger than you // He’s stronger than love, stronger than truth.” Carefully layered instrumentation provides the foundation from which VanWyck’s storytelling voice can soar.
This is taken from the Amsterdam-based singer-songwriter’s new album ‘The Epic Tale of the Stranded Man’, a striking concept album. You can read our epic 10/10 review of this epic album here. The premise of its twelve songs is an almost mythical story of a mysterious man, who has been stranded on a wondrous island. Taken in and looked after by one of the island’s inhabitants, the man has no memory of where he is from. The absorbing series of songs are like stories that prompt questions, including about which is the more dangerous: the man or the strange island and its people? It’s an ambitious project that VanWyck pulls off very effectively thanks to the quality of her songcraft, her understated and absorbing vocals and the subtle intelligence of her lyrics.
Christine told AUK what the concept of ‘The Dragon’ means to her: “For me ‘The Dragon’ is two things. It’s both a very personal song and it fits the narrative of the Epic Tale of The Stranded Man album. On stage I always introduce it as, ‘Every epic tale has to have a dragon in it.’ The Stranded Man thought he was low, at the deepest point, but now he’s sinking even deeper. The Dragon – that thing he thought he could use to his own advantage – that thing he thought would make the pain go away – has taken him over completely and turns out to be bigger and stronger than all the things he held dear. The damage is done, there is no way out .It’s about using a force that is bigger than you for the wrong reasons. Whether that’s drugs or alcohol or greed or fame. It’s about the destructive forces that always accompany that force.” Collectively and individually, people are lost in an uncertain world searching for solutions, seeking a new path. It’s really this epic struggle for purpose and, indeed, survival that she seeks to address on her fourth album: “The older I get, the more aware I have become that a lot of people are not doing great. We all struggle with personal demons, be they big or small. Addictions, anxiety, depression, fear for the future. In all our wealth, we are often not doing well. It’s painful to see that with all of our boundless abilities we are not able to create a society where most people can feel good, can feel valued, or have the feeling they lead meaningful lives.” And it’s in this context that we find ourselves absorbed by the plight of The Stranded Man.
This is an inspiring album. But before you check it out, enjoy the ethereal splendour of this live performance.