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Camel - Harbour Of Tears CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 682 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars A companion piece to "Dust and Dreams", "Harbour of Tears" is also a tale of migration, in this case from Ireland to parts unknown. This type of "leaving home" theme is so common to folk music of the British Isles that it has become a genre unto itself. Rare is the progressive rock group that tackles the concept, but Camel does so with typical grace and the heart of a gifted storyteller.

While the albums starts off with a couple of very traditional Irish sounding tunes, including Latimer on flute and Mae McKenna on vocals, this seems more by way of setting the mood than out of a desire to turn Camel into a Celtic rock band. The folkie influence dissipates through the balance of the work, and we are left with a heady blend of aspects of both Camel's 80s works and the aforementioned "Dust and Dreams". Several strong songs stand out as highlights - the mysterious and somber title cut, the quasi orchestral "Send Home the Slates", the Floydian "Watching the Bobbins" with its irresistible Latimer lead guitars, and the acoustically haunting "Eyes of Ireland". As in the previous album, the songs are separated by atmospheric highly symphonic interludes, with one of the more substantial being "Running from Paradise", but the material here is somewhat stronger, as Latimer is improving at the whole symphonic prog opera approach. There is a bit of a fall off in quality for the last two lengthy instrumentals. The 15 minutes of wave sounds at the end might work in a narrative but I can't sit through it on a regular basis.

While story albums are not unheard of in progressive rock, Camel's comeback pair of albums breathed new life into the category, presenting a more tasteful, understated version of the bloated 1970s classics, in tune with the times yet with the benefit of decades of experience. Camel has explored a number of harbours during this time, but perhaps none so poignantly.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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