This review is written by Dai Woosnam, email@example.com, 7/04
Almost exactly a couple of years ago I received a
debut album out of the blue by a band I had never heard of called the
Rise Band (or “Rise” for short). It turned out that this 5 piece band
was based on the Isle of Bute on the West coast of Scotland. The album
turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise.
Well, here comes their follow-up. From the excellent liner booklet, I see that they are still based on the Isle of Bute. (By the way, the liner booklet is a MODEL in how it should be done: white text on a plain black background means easy readability, and this time there is none of the pretentious use of photos that stuck in my craw the first time round.)
From reading the notes I also see that the Band has now have
shrunk (for recording purposes at least) to a threesome. But
fortunately the three that remain struck me as the three who formed the
integral part of the first album.
I refer to multi-instrumentalist and song-writer Gerry Geoghegan, percussionist and keyboard exponent Kris Manvell, and vocalist extraordinaire Debbie Dawson.
And since the three are still together, it is no surprise that with this CD they nicely consolidate the reputation they built for themselves with the first album.
The songs are mainly Gerry's own creations, but there are three
Folk “standards” thrown in. Of the three the one that
really scored with me was Debbie's version of that Nanci Griffith
favourite “Love at the Five and Dime”.
In my review of “Uncertain Wonders” their first album, I made the observation that Debbie would do well to interpret the songs of singers like… Nanci Griffith! Little did I know that this song had been in their repertoire for a few years. And she gives it the Dawson treatment, with Gerry's very simpatico vocal harmony on the chorus. I just LOVED it.
As for Gerry's songs: the subject areas are nothing if not ambitious.
They run the gamut here: a big ballad on the American Civil War “Woe to Live On”; his sequel to “Time and Tide” (the song that was to give them their vital “break” on radio) called “I Will Love You Always”; and two deeply serious and brave songs...- the title song, and “The Gallows Song”. I am not sure that he pulls any of the songs off totally, but they are all brave attempts, BEAUTIFULLY performed. (You will swoon with the sheer pleasure of listening to the delicious harmony vocals of his “Trust Me”: a song with as mellifluous-a-hook as I have heard in years.)
I commend this album to anyone who wants their CDs varied in subject matter, tone and texture. And above all wants newly-minted songs that are prepared to occasionally tackle darker subject matter.
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