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Renaissance - Novella CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 394 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 3.75 stars

After an ambituous album with a 25 minute long song, it seems like the band, already matured, decided to release a "safe" prog album with minor experimentation and focused on the trademark sound of Renaissance with an emphasis on classical music over folk.

Let me tell you that while this album is not very fresh, it is excellently composed, has perfect production, has no weak spots, has Annie at her absolute best, and sounds grandiose. The inclusion of an ochestra works in their favour, even if it drows the band a bit. The orchestra is not used to amplify the sound, it melds with the music. In other words, Novella's orchestra inclusion was intended in the first place and doesn't sound like they just added bits here and there to amplify the sound at the last moment of the recording.

Can You Hear Me is the long song to make proggers happy and wanting to buy the album for reading 2-digit minute durations. While I admit that this song could have been cut a minute or two, it really is a great epic with soaring vocals, a full orchestra, and wild bursts of beautiful and energetic music in the middle part (especially that mind-blowing part in minute 10 that moves me as much as the immortal church organ part in Close to the Edge). The next song The Sisters just feels like the 2nd part of the epic as it is connected to it seamlessly. This may be my 2nd favourite Renaissance track (after Ashes are Burning). It has a melancholic sound, interesting chord progressions, beautiful melodies/harmonies , amazing acoustic guitar playing, and a thousand more things to talk about. This is a masterpiece of a song that may leave you in tears.

The second side of the album is very solid too. Midas Man is my favourite of the three. It is folky and classical and mostly acoustic, but it sounds threatening with the tubular bells, bass, and wild piano runs in the background. Overall, an effective haunting track. The Captive Heart is the least interesting song, but it succeeds at being a short ballad with beautiful vocals that rests the listener from the more intense previous tracks. Finally, Touching Once , has a lot to offer with its genre-mixing nature of folk, jazz, medieval, classical, prog, and probably a couple of other styles. It is dynamic, shapeshifting, and offers a satisfying climax full of power.

A brilliant record that will move you and amaze you. Renaissance are at their best and while this album is quite formulaic, it features Renaissance's strengths and none of its weaknesses.

Highlights: Can You Hear Me, The Sisters, Midas Man

Let Downs: None

My Grade: B

Zitro | 4/5 |


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