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Pendragon - Love Over Fear CD (album) cover





4.07 | 365 ratings

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5 stars Well, a new Pendragon album is always something to celebrate in Lazland, and Love Over Fear is no exception.

Trailed comments prior to release suggested that the album was a return to the pomp glory days of yore. To a degree, yes it is. By and large, the experimentation with a far louder and harsh hard rock sound has gone. Neither, however, is this a clone of, say, The Masquerade Overture. Rather, this album provides us with a band in ridiculously rude health in 2020, and an extremely personal statement on the part of leader Nick Barrett. This is pretty much a perfect fusion of those old much loved albums, and essential modernity.

This album is, as the title suggests, an uplifting experience, something that is surely much needed in these challenging times. Given that my son and I were supposed to be seeing them live this weekend, I (and you, dear reader) have had to make do with this review.

The whole work is beautifully produced. From the opening key bars right through to the surround sound end, what we get here is an album which oozes passion, if you will pardon the pun, and a work very much influenced by Nick's move to SW England and his love of the water.

Many highlights, but to these ears, I have never heard Nick sound as good as he does on the wonderful second track, a gorgeous ballad Starfish and the Moon. Deceptively simple piano accompanies a delicate vocal and trademark Barrett guitar. Nick's tattoo is on his heart indeed here.

Truth and Lies is a very thoughtful prog rock track which highlights all four working together well in the closing instrumental passage. New drummer, Jan- Vincent Velazco, is a perfect fit for the band, and he clearly works well with Peter Gee. Clive Nolan, as ever, provides the stunning backdrop to a most wonderful Barrett guitar solo, leading to a trademark emotive vocal and wall of sound at the denouement.

Perhaps surprisingly, though, my favourite is the Celtic folk infused 360 degrees, an utter joy of the celebration of life and local community. I just love the violin on this, and the closing passages simply want to make you to jump up and down with sheer joy at the experience of living.

Eternal Light provides us with a wee bit of a jump back to classic kids telly, when Nick exhorts us to turn off that TV set and read a good book instead (you had to have been there), but, again, the theme of waking up and experiencing life, not simply breathing, is so utterly strong on this track, and I love Nolan's keys here. The mid passage vocals and accompanying guitar work make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Wondrous stuff, and gloriously pastoral in parts which remind me very much of what Pendragon and their peers always did so well, that is taking their forebears symphonic sound and adapting it to their own unique feel.

The darker feel of the previous albums hasn't been completely lost, though. Who Really Are We? really is exceptionally menacing in parts, especially the opening sequence, but listening to the lyrics, you realise that we are being encouraged to look inside ourselves for truth, rather than much of the lies we are fed on a daily basis. The track matures into a classic Pendragon rocker with a marvellous group effort, right up there with the finest of the past glories I alluded to earlier. A wonderful wall of sound.

We come down with the closer, Afraid of Everything. Don't be afraid. Don't lead your life in fear. Don't reflect on what has passed. Live life for what it is, live it, breath it, experience it, and look forward to what is to come. I love this track, so thoughtful, and so hopeful, with a guitar solo leading into another classic feel Pendragon wall of sound which makes you simply stop and wonder at the beauty of it all.

I tell you, the band really haven't sounded better than this. This is an album which belies the fact that they are now in a 35 year recording career. It is one of those rare albums which gets better and better with each listen, and I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Love Over Fear to all progressive rock fans.

Five stars. A modern masterpiece, and all I can say is that Ioan and I cannot wait for the rearranged Winter's End festival next year when he will, at long last, have his Pendragon live debut experience.

As a closer, please note that this review is of the single album. I pre-ordered the triple cd release. This includes an acoustic cd, and an instrumental cd, all brought to us in a sumptuous gatefold case, with artwork by a local artist which is stunning.

lazland | 5/5 |


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