This review is written by Dai Woosnam, firstname.lastname@example.org, 10/04
This is the first solo album by Dave
Bainbridge, the co-founder and guitarist/keyboardist of the critically
acclaimed group “Iona”.
Dave plays as many as 15 instruments here himself. And the boy can really play alright! However, he is also assisted by an array of current and former members of Iona including Joanne Hogg (vocals), Troy Donockley (pipes and whistles), Frank Van Essen (drums and violins) plus bass players Tim Harries and Nick Beggs. In addition there is the Gaelic singing Mae McKenna on lead vocals and (on backing vocals) Rachel Jones from Karnataka.
This CD has a crisp, well-produced sound. As with Iona's albums, the theme is based on ancient Christian legend. Much of the album was conceived with an account of a strange incident that occurred one dark night on the hills of Northumbria. A 16-year-old shepherd noticed that in the distance, above Bamburgh, some lights were descending from the heavens.
And then he noted that moments later, the lights ascended back to where they'd come from.
The young shepherd was to learn some days following that the founder of Lindisfarne (St Aidan) had actually died at Bamburgh at exactly the same moment that he, the shepherd boy, had seen the lights.
The lights had been the angels coming to take a particularly beloved soul to Heaven. And the shepherd boy grew up to be the much-revered St Cuthbert.
Dave has clearly worked hard on this most atmospheric of albums. Let me put my cards on the table: the lyrics do not do a lot for me. But the SOUND of the album and even the sound of the lyrics (on my third listening I “tuned out” the actual meaning of the words, and just treated the human voice as yet another of the dazzling array of instruments) is worthy of real praise.
Keyboard washes abound, while throughout, Dave at one moment tempts us into his lair with some inviting gentle acoustic guitar, and then when we lay back and start to dream about the existence of this world and its relation to the next one, suddenly blasts us out of our reverie with some blistering electric guitar runs, as Tim Harries's bass guitar and Frank van Essen's drums add powerful support.
An album for all Iona fans, and also for all lovers of the non run-of-the-mill.
All tracks written by Dave Bainbridge.
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