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Illusion - Renaissance Illusion: Through The Fire CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.65 | 18 ratings

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4 stars Silent meditation poses a problem for our constantly plugged in society, since it requires tuning out external stimuli and heeding one's inner voice for a change. One may not always like what one hears, but guided meditation and imagery can be an effective alternative that suffuses the yielding participant. Of course, as in any inward pursuit, that rare commodity of patience is essential, but the potential rewards are worth the sacrifice. Such is the case with this reunion, er- solo , ay - RENAISSANCE ILLUSION disk.

"Through the Fire" is essentially a JIM MCCARTY album consistent with his brilliant "Out of the Dark" (1991), meaning it amply retains the core values of the original RENAISSANCE albums and those of ILLUSION in the late 70s merged with his own tender idealism and spirituality. The main difference from his official solo albums is the presence of most of the contingent from those 70s bands as backing musicians. While JANE RELF sings backup, the main benefit of this reunion is in JOHN HAWKEN's mellifluous keyboards, chiefly piano. These elevate the effects of every song and impose a progressive footprint on what is otherwise a melodic soft rock album.

The most progressive piece here is the opener, the sprawling "Another Turn of the Wheel", which might be considered an alternate title, or at least theme track. Both "Good Heart" and "Glorious One" are solid uplifting songs with appealing blends of electric and acoustic guitars and McCarty's surprisingly mature and soothing self-taught vocals. "Mystery of Being" represents a cross fertilization with the more Native American sounding work of one of McCarty's other involvements, the band PILGRIM, which is recommended if you like the concept of BLACKMORE'S NIGHT but find you need lactaid pills to digest their kitsch. One of the biggest surprises is how much "Beat of the Earth" sounds like REM, even down to McCarty's MIchael Stipes impersonation, but musically as well. Not that there is absolutely anything wrong with that!

The consistency of McCarty's vision is beguiling, as he tenderly imparts every message in a manner that bears consistent rewards every time one listens, whether actively or passively, with headphones while drifting off to sleep, or perhaps with someone special. This is a man who has passed through the fire and come out stronger, and is generously sharing his experience to those of us who not only listen, but hear.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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