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3 stars It is definitely last of the albums connected to She project... but I of course am not so sure about it :). This album is a perfect picture of second, in my opinion real Caamora - an acoustic duet of Clive and Agnieszka, without the burden of the double rock band and choir. We saw samples of this incarnation at the bonus disc of She DVD, and now we got a better portrait of the band. And I must admit this is the only opportunity where you can really appreciate Agnieszka's voice (not the opera, she was shadowed there by Mrs Christina Booth). The album starts with "Journey's End", recapitulating the story of "She", great coda and as usual very nice song delivered by Clive Nolan, and after that we receive a saucerful or plate full of surprises with one single bitter pill. After the title track there are 21 live tracks, recorded in various countries, including Poland, Germany, England, Belgium, arranged in a way that resembles the single Caamora show. It covers almost every important song from "She", except for "Dance of Fire" and "Fire of Life" (the most operatic acts indeed) and "History" (this is an "Alan Reed's" song, but I always wanted to hear it sung by Agnieszka Świta). And there are songs from repertoire of Strangers On A Train ("Sacrifice", song which somehow signaled the future "She"), Nolan and Wakeman (especially "Shadows of Fate", great performance of Agnieszka Świta), Arena ("Mea Culpa" and "State of Grace", "Salamander" sung by Sebastian Medina), even Tracy Hitichings ("Horizons in your Eyes", Agnieszka Świta live is as good, even better than lady Tracy) and also few surprises in the line-up, for instance "The Bonding" sung by none other than Mrs Christina Booth, "Murder" with guest appearance of guitarists Gonzalo Paz and Myung Jung. Continuing the South American story the second disc contains great performance of Celina Berro Madero, including "The Veil " (another Alan Reed's song) and "(I Can See Your) House from Here", the vocal more sensual than even Agnieszka's . The rest of the album consists of demos (especially "The Storm", more spooky than on studio album) and bonus tracks. The highlight of the bonuses is "In Aeternum", a song worshipping Ayesha in Latin, great vocal overdubs. Also among the bonus tracks is the mentioned bitter pill, track written by Agnieszka Świta named "Grunwald" (the battle fought by Polish and Lithuanian knights with Teutonian Order in 1410), with polish text so patriotic that it crosses the borders of nationalism . On the other hand nice and mellow melody. All in all, very interesting album for anyone who wants to learn about the acoustic incarnation of Caamora and of Caamora itself. Notwithstanding the single flaw, a strong three stars grade.
Report this review (#191136)
Posted Sunday, November 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars She's been around the world

"Journey's end" is a very different album from Caamora's epic "She" musical, and indeed from pretty much anything Clive Nolan has released before. The sub-title "An acoustic anthology" offers an immediate indication of what to expect here, the overall mood of this double CD collection being intimate and atmospheric.

Most of the recordings are taken from acoustic performances by Caamora in various parts of the world between 2006 and 2008. In the main, the music consists of the fine vocals of Agnieszka Swita accompanied by Clive on piano. This is by no means the whole story though with some tracks, especially those recorded in Argentina, featuring various vocal and instrumental guests. The acoustic tag is therefore used as a fairly loose caveat, in a similar way to that of the MTV unplugged series.

Most of the songs here either appeared on the "She" album in their finished form, or were candidates for inclusion. We do though also have several Arena songs ("Mea Culpa", "State of grace", "Salamander") a couple originally by Nolan and Wakeman and a Strangers on a Train number. The arrangements of these songs are radically different here, with "Mea culpa" lending itself particularly well to the simple approach which has been adopted.

There are a number of songs included which are not taken from live performances. The opening song, which gives the album its title, is a new studio recording. Clive explains in the sleeve notes, that the "Journey's end" is the completion of the three year long "She" project. We also have three demos recorded during the early days of "She", all of which appear in their completed form on the DVD version. Two of these songs have since been dropped from the live set for "She" to reduce the overall length.

The final three songs on the album are "bonus" studio songs which were intended for either "She" or for inclusion on the various EPs released by Caamora, but were not actually used. "In aeternum" is an Enigma like multi-part harmony piece, quite different to Caamora's other work. "Grunwald" is a rare composition by Agnieszka, sung mostly in Polish. Bearing in mind that she only entered the music industry after meeting Clive, it is quite remarkable how assured she is both on stage and in the studio. The final song is a reworking of Shadowland's "Father" with Nolan leading the vocals. The song is complemented by a pleasing harpsichord accompaniment.

The set is completed by a radio interview with Nolan and Swita where they explain the background to this release; this is followed by a further hidden song.

In all a fine double CD release from Caamora, which complements the lavish grandeur of "She" perfectly. Both Nolan and Swita make it clear that this is "Journey's end" only in respect of the "She" project, Caamora are already planning new voyages for the future.

Report this review (#191466)
Posted Tuesday, December 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars On the surface this looks like a release the world didn't need to see. I mean, Caamora released She ac a CD and a live DVD not that long ago, and here come's a new double CD with live versions from various locations, outtakes and demos, an interview....and one new song - the title track of this release.

But in fact this is a very interesting release; and as I regard it one much more interesting than the ones preceding it as well. The live versions of various tracks from She, as well as a few selected items from Clive Nolan's extensive back catalogue, are performed in stripped down versions. Some but not all acoustic - the title description an acoustic anthology is only correct for about half of these tracks.

All of the live recordings are of simplified versions of the songs though; and for my sake it was quite a revelation to explore the songs from She in particular in this setting. Without the Wagnerian, melodramatic arrangements these songs for the most part come across as compelling creations, and many of them stellar too.

Most of all due to the raw, powerful yet restrained vocal performance by Agnieszka; whose vocals really come to their right in this particular kind of setting.

As for the outtakes and demos, many of them are fascinating and high class experiences in their own right. Personally I found the sacral sounding choir exploration In Aeternum the best of these - an amazing compositions with layered vocals creating a massive, rich atmosphere - and a compositions that should be performed by a real choir some day, preferably in a cathedral.

Not everything is perfect here of course; but of the 28 tracks here, 29 if you count the hidden Christmas song at the end of CD 2; there are more than enough high quality compositions to warrant buying this one - in particular if melancholy and melodramatic songs with female vocals and piano as the dominating elements sounds interesting.

Report this review (#202543)
Posted Thursday, February 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars She goes acoustic

Compared to the overblown, overly bombastic Rock Opera that was She, what we have on the present release goes to the other extreme; here we get many songs taken from She, but they are stripped down to the very basics, mostly just grand piano and vocals. We also get a few songs by other Clive Nolan projects such as Shadowland, Strangers On A Train, Nolan & (Oliver) Wakeman and Arena, all performed in a similar stripped down fashion. Most of the songs were recorded live in many different places around the world (Poland, England, Chile, Bolivia, Germany, Belgium and Argentina) between 2006 and 2008, but apart from Clive's introductions and the applause at the end of each song, these recordings sounds very much like studio recordings. Karl Groom of Shadowland and Threshold was involved in compiling and mastering these recordings and the end result is sonically impeccable.

The core of Caamora consists of Clive and vocalist Agnieszka Swita and Swita handles most of the lead vocals here. Clive himself sings some parts and a couple of songs are sung by Christina Booth of Magenta and one (Arena's Salamander) by a Sebastian Medina. On the She material, instead of having three or four different vocalists playing different roles in the story, three different keyboard players, two guitarists, a drummer, choir and a full orchestra, etc., Clive and Agnieszka goes at it (almost) all alone here. The dominant element in the music here is Agnieszka's often dramatic vocals and, precisely as in the sleeve picture, she is to the front of the sound and Clive is in the background. In the picture, Agnieszka even leans against Clive's grand piano which plays a merely supporting role for her both literally and musically! Her distinctive voice is as beautiful as she is, but with such a long running time I tend to tire of it somewhat towards the end. Only occasionally are there some rather discrete acoustic guitar and drums in the mix.

I should say up front that I mostly enjoy these acoustic live performances of the She material more than the original Rock Opera versions and that I have the greatest respect for Clive Nolan, who, in fact, is one of my favourite songwriters. Indeed, in my opinion, Journey's End is by far Caamora's best release, but, like the original Rock Opera, this is by no means Prog. Windows Media Player categorizes this as 'Pop' and that is probably right. The songs are all fairly short and there is no room for Clive (or anyone else) to expand instrumentally. The sound and approach remains pretty much the same throughout and it is not easy to sit through the whole two disc set in one go.

The first disc opens with the title track of this anthology which is a new studio recording. At the end of disc two, we get several demos from the She sessions and at the very end an interesting radio interview with Clive and Agnieszka (concluded by a hidden song). The bulk of this anthology is, however, acoustic live recordings.

The informative booklet is filled with comments and pictures and I am very happy to own this lavish set, but Journey's End can really only be recommended to Clive Nolan fans, even if this is very different from anything else he has done in the past including the rest of the Caamora output.

Report this review (#293260)
Posted Tuesday, August 3, 2010 | Review Permalink

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