Hot Shit: Jake Houlsby’s ‘Vondelpark’


By Alex

Not to brag, but I sort of used to live in Amsterdam. Admittedly, you didn’t need to know that, it really has no relevance here, but I wanted to let you know anyway. I like to bring it up whenever I can, that I used to live in Amsterdam. When someone mentions weed or the EU or that time they spent two nights there while they were inter-railing, I like to mention, not so casually, that for a period, I lived in Amsterdam.

I mention this now partly because I am what you may refer to as ‘an insufferable millennial’, but also because I am about to talk about the new track by Newcastle musician Jake Houlsby, a track named ‘Vondelpark’. For reference, Vondelpark is a park in Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands, where I used to live.

Houlsby’s ‘Vondelpark’ is a woozy, melancholic affair. Misty, yearning vocals and bittersweet guitar blend in a wistful, romantic harmony, like the soundtrack to a flashback scene in a film, the once vibrant reds and greens of the park pallid and faded, now seen in hindsight in muted greys and off-whites, the memory tainted by an acute feeling of loss.

“Lately I’ve been doubting every move,” Houlsby laments on a track that glides from fond reminisces (“You in your red coat dreaming like a child”) to crippling self-doubt, Houlsby in a reflective mood, bordering on self-loathing at points, as he longs for a time of happiness, a time that has since passed, perhaps never to return.

Haunting and vulnerable, ‘Vondelpark’ is a fragile ode to a romanticised past, set in a beautiful park, in a city called Amsterdam, where by the way, I used to live.


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