A career-spanning anthology originally released in 2003 in Ad Vanderveen's native Holland, Late Bloomer is a solid old-school singer/songwriter disc: think John Prine and Neil Young, not Elliott Smith and James Blunt. Not strictly guitar and voice -- piano, female backing vocals, mandolin, fiddle and other instruments are subtly deployed where necessary -- but retaining that sort of intimacy, these songs were cut over the course of a decade, but Vanderveen's style is so firmly entrenched that they could have been recorded in a single session. On their own merits, songs like "If My Eyes Were Blind" and "Anchor" are '70s-style singer/songwriter pop in its purest and most enjoyable form, but over the course of a lengthy anthology like this one, listener fatigue might set in around the two-thirds point, when Vanderveen's unmistakable tendency to mimic Neil Young's vocal phrasing becomes less charming than it had been on early songs like the country-ish "First Feeling." (It's not at all surprising to learn that Vanderveen's backing band, "the O'Neils," were originally called "the Young Neils" in blatant hero worship.) Overall, however, Late Bloomer makes a fine introduction to Ad Vanderveen, a cult figure on the edge of the Americana scene who deserves wider exposure.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason