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Renaissance - The Other Woman CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.12 | 68 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Nearly a decade after the last remnants of Renaissance Mk II (or III, depending on who's counting) packed it in guitarist Michael Dunford finally realized his goal of transforming the band's 1975 Scheherazade suite into a musical, culminating in a series of live performances at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The performances were supported by students of the Academy, including a young American vocalist by the name of Stephanie Adlington. Dunford was so taken by Adlington's vocal talent he enlisted her to perform as part of his 'Michael Dunford's Renaissance' lineup and record what became 'The Other Woman', released in 1994 in the UK and later in the U.S., Scandinavia and elsewhere.

While this is certainly not the same sort of classical-folk music Renaissance created during their glory years, the songs here are considerably more artistically and sonically appealing than the last couple of eighties studio albums from the band. Dunford is the only proper Renaissance member appearing here, augmented by former Whitesnake drummer Dave Dowle, bassist Phil Mulford, classical guitarist Stuart Bradbury and keyboardist Andy Spillar. Former Broken Home guitarist Rory Erickson also appears on one track while Adlington provides all the lead and backing vocals.

Ms. Adlington may not have the vocal range of Annie Haslam but she certainly acquits herself quite well on these songs with a voice that is rich, emotive, at times seductive, and with a range that is impressive in its own right. On a few songs Adlington reveals her American phrasing and timing, coming off as a slightly more sophisticated version of the Motels' Martha Davis on songs like the soft-rocking "Quicksilver" and the funky "Don't Talk". Elsewhere she shifts into adult contemporary mode, especially on the sometimes jazzy "Somewhere West of Here" and the gorgeous opening track "Déjà vu". The title track is a delightful soft pop number that recalls some of the more mature and restrained Kate Bush works.

While the album is consistently competent and well-produced there are few standout tracks, especially for hardcore Renaissance fans (most of whom probably scorned Adlington as the 'other woman' years ago). Two that are worth at least a listen are her version of the Renaissance classic hit "Northern Lights" and "Love Lies, Love Dies", a Dunford composition that Haslam would record herself on a solo album. In both cases the urge to compare the two singers is hard to resist but with "Northern Lights" I have to say Adlington holds her own on a song that never did test Haslam's range, and frankly she makes "Love Lies, Love Dies" her own with a throaty and playful performance that plays off the piano and synth keyboards beautifully.

Like I said this is not really a Renaissance album, but given the peculiarities of trademark law and recording artist contracts Dunford was able to put the brand name on the cover anyway, so whether fans accept the interloper Adlington or not this one shows up today in pretty much every discography listing of the band. I wouldn't call it progressive or folk by any means, but the musicianship is very good and Dunford shows a keen ear for vocal talent both in his decision to cast Adlington and in writing songs that are well-suited to her singing ability. The result is a solid if unremarkable album, and one that I don't regret shelling out a few bucks for. Three stars is a fair rating, and I wouldn't have any problem recommending 'The Other Woman' to anyone who grew up in the nineties and was interested in what a few aging prog rockers could do with a young chanteuse and a few weeks of studio time. This one is worth picking up in my opinion.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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