It may not be the genre we’re used to hearing from her, but it is definitely the style that fits Dutch singer Desray like the proverbial glove. With her new single You Can Be Loved, she is putting down new roots. From now on, Desray brings us catchy countrypop with shades of folk, soul and Americana.
For many years, Desray’s name has been well-known in Dutch music. After winning popular TV talenshow Soundmixshow at age 18, she was given a lucrative singing deal. Real fame came when she joined 2 Brothers On The 4th Floor, the Europop hitmachine that found worldwide success and provides her with an ongoing gig to this day. In the mean time, she developed into a renowned vocal coach, as well as presenting her own monthly show Music Legends, performing with her band and varying guest artists.
Working with 2 Brothers On The 4th Floor is still a treat, Desray says. “Nineties parties still draw a huge audience, and there’s always a great atmosphere. As long as they like it and we like it, we’ll keep going. But that is not my future anymore. I can do more than sing old dance tunes; I also want to create new songs in the studio and perform with my band. The flow that is generated with a live band is magic.” It’s the reason Desray decided to start looking for a new musical direction; a style of her own that would give her new energy.
Due to her versatility, finding a specific direction was not easy. It took a few years before Desray found it. “I wanted to add something unique, a style I could really make mine, for me to be able to sing with passion and my heart.”
During her search she went back to her roots, to the music her parents played while she was a child: The Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton, The Eagles. But Desray took it one step further and also went looking for current artists. What she found was country band Rascal Flatts, a big name in the VS. She truly discovered female singers such as Martina McBride, Dolly Parton, Bonnie Raitt, Carrie Underwood, Sheryl Crow, and Melissa Etheridge, as well as the TV series Nashville; more specifically, the music in it. “Beautiful songs, which struck a chord deep inside. That’s the kind of music I want to make.”
The city of Nashville turned out to be a good place to start. There, she found writing partners such as ‘imported’ Irishman Don Mescall, who wrote for artists like Sharon Corr (The Corrs), Ronan Keating, and, again, Rascal Flatts. She recorded a duet with Richie McDonald of legendary country act Lonestar, and worked with renowned songwriter Tony Cornelissen in The Netherlands. Producer Patrick Drabe became her studio ally: together, they are shaping Desray’s new musical style.
With good result: You Can Be Loved, the first single, is a perfect calling card and an enticing foretaste of the album that’s in the works. Not just a perfect fit musically, the message in the song is also close to Desray’s heart. “You Can Be Loved” is about the minorities in our society and the people taking care of them, for whom I have such admiration. For me, it’s important to bring positive thoughts into the world with my lyrics. I don’t write and sing from anger, but from love.” To put emphasis on the idea, the video for the song was shot in De Cocon, a facility for the homeless in the Dutch town of Hilversum.
It’s only the first page out of a new chapter in Desray’s book. Secretly she’s already dreaming of playing festivals and, eventually, theatres, singing both her own songs and those of others which inspire her. Powerful songs, but also small and intimate ones. “I want to be able to see the audience, make a connection to people. Share an honest and universal message. That’s where I draw my strength from, which makes the circle complete.”