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Camel - A Nod and a Wink CD (album) cover

A NOD AND A WINK

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

3.95 | 791 ratings

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judahbenkenobi
4 stars As I am writing this review, this is Camel's last release of original studio material, which means "A Nod and a Wink" is already 17 years old. That is not a long time considering it was released at Camel's 30th birthday and, in spite of lineup changes, old age, and physical infirmities, the band is still active.

For the most part, this album picks up where its predecessor left. More vocals than usual, featuring thoughtful lyrics interspersed with melodic instrumental parts, a slow but refined pace, and a beautiful, emotional guitar play.

The title and opening track sets the standard for the whole album. "Simple Pleasures" has one of the most beautiful guitar solos Andy Latimer has ever come up with. "A Boy's Life" has a deceivingly slow, acoustic start, but the song gradually builds up to a dramatic guitar solo near the four-minute mark. The ending guitar and keyboard duel teaches that good soloing not necessarily means fast shredding. "Fox Hill" is a song that I've been struggling to understand and to like, but after a quite a few spins haven't simply gotten around it. The vocalization is what I dislike, the rest of it is more or less OK. "The Miller's Tale" is the shortest song of the album, with brief, meaningful lyrics and a very interesting instrumentation, with a rhythm acoustic guitar during the first half and a nice windwork on the last half. "Squigely Fair" is a fairly good track, mostly instrumental, with a very good flute solo at around its second minute on to its fourth. The downpoint is the somewhat ridiculous lyrics, but fortunately they last very little (To Andy Latimer's credit, they are in tone with the song's theme, so they don't entirely ruin the song. They are actually there on purpose). "For Today", (dedicated to the High Diver on 9/11 according to the liner notes) clocks at nearly 11 minutes and starts with Andy's deep voice over a nice piano accompaniment. 2 minutes later, the guitar steals the show for the next couple of minutes and gives way to Guy LeBlanc's keyboard solo (I would dare to say that LeBlanc is the most daring keyboard player Camel's had since Pete Bardens), which a few minutes later and after a few bass guitar strokes handles back the flag to Latimer's guitar. The song ends with a choir which reminded me very much of the post-Waters Pink Floyd, but is not necessarily impressive. "After All These Years" is a bonus track and the only instrumental track in the album: another outstanding performance by Latimer. After listening to this album for quite some time, I cannot specifically highlight one song, since all of it is very much alike. Not that it's entirely monotonous, but there are little things that stand up by themselves besides the guitar solos.

If I had been following this band my whole life throughout all its history, I'm pretty sure I would have been moved by its sentimental value (it was dedicated to the late Peter Bardens), but since I made my discovery of Camel just a little over one month ago, I cannot force myself to attune my feelings with Latimer's or even the band's core fanbase. So musically and artistically, it is a slight step backwards, a 3.5 stars rounded to 4 stars.

judahbenkenobi | 4/5 |

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