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William D. Drake - Revere Reach CD (album) cover

REVERE REACH

William D. Drake

 

Eclectic Prog

3.96 | 9 ratings

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Lewian
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is a highly addictive album, be warned. Over the last two months, since I bought it from Drake's Bandcamp site, it has probably become my most played album. It took me three attempts or so before I really got into it; the earworm qualities are not quite as immediate as for example of "Me Fish Bring" on the previous album. A most important feature here are certainly the tunes; there are many melodies that have screwed themselves into my ears so that I couldn't let them go anymore. Catchy and at the same time full of surprises and, at times, complexity. The sound on this album is often piano-driven, sometimes organ or other keyboards such as the harmonium, and elsewhere a bit more orchestral, but there are hardly any guitars. Clarinet and sax are further elements that pop up from time to time, not doing solos but rather accents and dynamics. Drake sings many of the songs himself; he becomes ever more confident as a singer. Although he is not the most precise, the range he gets out of his raw non-singer's voice is quite impressive and his charming and often somewhat ironic intonation makes the listener forgive some technical deficiencies easily. Also the voice fits very well into most of the songs and arrangements; elsewhere he is supported by a small choir, and on Castaway it's a solo female singer, I think Andrea Parker. The production is very lively with strong drums and a generally very transparent sound. It helps that most of the instruments are natural; the interplay between e.g. clarinet, piano and glockenspiel is of amazing beauty. Several of the lyrics were originally poems by various authors and Drake does a good job to connect them to the music. Some are folky, on moods, landscape scenery including waterways and the sea in good Cardiacs tradition, but there are also more philosophical or close-to-life issues; I'm not usually much interested in lyrics but here many will find them worthwhile.

As usually with William D. Drake there is a strong very English folk influence and also elements from classical and chamber music. I'd say that this is his proggiest release (although not by a large margin) with complex harmonies and arrangements and a number of interesting instrumental interludes, and the songs are all on the short side of prog. For the first time I realise, in some of Drake's songs, a very clear Jethro Tull connection. There are also obvious parallels to the North Sea Radio Orchestra, for which Drake had acted as guest choir singer. Drake's songwriting preserves some of the craziness of his Cardiacs past but he manages to make things sound more accessible without compromising. He apparently has a weak spot for waltz-like 3/4 signatures.

Despite an overall feeling of consistency, there is a good variety of speeds and intensities on the album, although it is never on the really fast side. There are calm ballad-like songs, the opening Distant Buzzing is quite a stomper, then there's the odd instrumental, and fast quirky folk like the Catford Clown.

This is a very rich, colorful and uplifting collection of melodies, harmonies, and tasteful and sophisticated arrangements between piano-driven rock, folk and some chamber music. I am tempted to give all five stars and probably if the album survives its current heavy airplay at my home, it may indeed turn out to be a masterpiece, but I have some reservations to declare it one after only two months (still I wanted the first review so couldn't wait for too long).

Lewian | 4/5 |

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