Interviews

Dutch Singer-Songwriter Judy Blank Talks 'Morning After' EP, Americana Acceptance

Satellite June

"Dutch Americana" isn't an oxymoron for the Netherlands-based singer-songwriter Judy Blank, as heard on five-song EP Morning After, out Nov. 1 on Munich Records/V2 Records.

From acoustic lullaby "Pretty Far" and jazzy slow-crawler "Angel in Me" to rocking stomper "Oh Honey," Blank honors her folk roots and popular music passion across a musical addendum she describes as "a little more raw" and "a little more rocky" than its interconnected predecessor, the 2018 full-length Morning Sun.

Both records reflect Blank's budding relationship with a receptive American audience.

"Ever since I got inspired to do this, I just started coming (to America) and noticing the difference when I sing my songs, which I write in English," Blank told Wide Open Country in September during AmericanaFest. "People here pick up on subtleties in songwriting because you're a songwriter country. It's in your culture."

While studying music education in the Netherlands, an internship opportunity sent Blank to teach elementary school in the cultural melting pot of Louisiana. Her students' music classes exposed her to earlier versions of folk songs she'd already learned from Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and The Wood Brothers.

The timelessness of those American folk songs inspires Blank's approach to recording her own music.

"We still listen to Neil Young records, Townes Van Zandt records and old Kris Kristofferson because it's just great songwriting, and it doesn't sound like it's from a certain time," she says. "I definitely wanted to make a timeless record that could have been recorded 40 years ago. That's also why I don't sing about my cell phone."

Blank's embrace of folk and roots rock from across the Atlantic makes for music that sounds genuine, fragile and human at a time when digital advancements often water down entertainment and art.

"With so much electronic music and people creating stuff behind their computer, the feel for actual handmade music got lost a little bit," she says. "I feel like people crave that: to be a great musician, write great songs and to perform that way."

Although Blank's lyrically driven creative process should appeal to country music fans, she hardly intends to aid anyone's honky-tonk revival.

"I was born and raised on a farm, but I wouldn't claim I was country because that's a whole cultural thing," she adds. "I'm more inspired by old blues, old soul, old rock and I do my own thing with all those influences. I think the term Americana is a real nice umbrella term to capture the essence of it."

Blank's future plans as a non-American Americana artist include the release of the Morning Tapes, a collection of songs from both records in the Morning Sun song cycle, recorded on a tape deck and released on cassette.

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Dutch Singer-Songwriter Judy Blank Talks 'Morning After' EP, Americana Acceptance