Over 45 minutes (it's a packed album, but a comparatively punchy CD), these fourteen songs cover a lot of territory within a fairly constrained aesthetic, from the chiming opener, "Surely Justice" through Byrds-like country on "All By Myself" and the quietly contemplative "Ask Anyone", to the spare "Freedom is a Gift". Songwriters Anne Soldaat (a man) and Jelle Paulusma (whose brother Coen plays percussion and a buoyant organ, and makes up the rest of the band, along with Jeroen Vos on bass and Jeroen Kleijn on drums) tend toward the impressionistic. While the in-English singing is nearly accentless, a surreal wordplay often invests the language with a hallucinatory power, as in the chorus of the lovely closer, "Hope, Love & Happiness": "Empty words/Honeybee, slowly go/Where I'm free/Sorrow sight for lonely eyes/Hummin' all the way."
Influences occasionally overwhelm inspiration: the chorus of "Riverside" echoes Everybody Knows This is Nowhere-era Neil Young, and other moments reference -- uncomfortably closely -- each of the bands mentioned above, as well as contemporary bell-bottom aficionados like the Green Pajamas. More often, Happy Traum (named after Happy Traum himself -- the folk singer, guitar instruction book writer and first interpreter of "Blowin' in the Wind") transcends retro nostalgia for the greater pleasures of, yes, "timeless" pop songcraft.