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(50:00, SPV / Steamhammer Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. God Save the Keg 3:40 2. Locked Within the Crystal Ball 8:00 3. Gilded Cage 3:39 4. Toast to Tomorrow 3:46 5. Prince Waldeck's Galliard 2:09 6. Rainbow Eyes 5:58 7. The Circle 4:45 8. Sister Gypsy 3:17 9. Can't Help Falling in Love 2:48 10. Peasant's Promise 5:30 11. Far-Far Away 3:50 12. Empty Words 2:38 LINEUP: Ritchie Blackmore – guitars, mandolin, mandecello; Swedish fiddle Candice Night – vocals; recorders Gypsy Rose – violin Bard David – analog keyboards, piano; accordion Earl Grey - bass, mandolin, guitar Squire Malcolm – percussion Jim Manngard – b/v Joe Castle – b/v
Prolusion. Formed in 1996, UK’s BLACKMORE’S NIGHT has been a highly successful endeavor for guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow) and singer Candice Night – the two main musicians in this outfit. Besides themselves getting married this year, these two artists and their band of minstrels also released a new album, "Secret Voyage".
Analysis. It took the world slightly by surprise when Ritchie Blackmore started playing folk rock in the late ‘90s. His name alone saw to it that many people unfamiliar with this kind of music wanted to find out what this was all about, and although most didn't venture beyond Blackmore's own outfit when it came to exploring the genre, it's undeniable that his involvement has made more people discover this form of music. Blackmore's Night has established itself as an acclaimed and popular name in the genre, and a new album by this outfit will always be of interest to many people. Musically this production is pretty much centered round the voice of Candice Night. Apart from two instrumentals, these songs have all been constructed as a foundation upon which her voice can soar and sparkle. She has a clear, distinct voice with powerful and well-controlled delivery, and comes across as a skilled as well as talented singer with a voice well-suited to this style of music. She will sometimes add to and at other times more or less create the main melody line explored, her voice soaring above the instruments in some segments and harmonizing with one or more of them in others. Her role in these compositions is highly dominant, to the point that I find it hard to see how one could enjoy a production such as this if you don't like her voice or vocal style. Ritchie Blackmore's role may arguably be more important in terms of composition rather than performance, but he's still a highly skilled guitarist, adding quirky and intricate guitar patterns just as easily as more basic melodic ones, with various forms of acoustic string instruments, as well as utilizing the electric guitar – the latter mostly for atmospheric guitar soloing or melodic bursts adding vitality as well as some unexpected musical details to some songs. Various forms of keyboards add essential details and nuances to the main melody line, whether provided by guitar or vocals, and is given the role of providing one itself at times, too. Many of the compositions feature multiple layers provided by this instrument; and these are key elements in the formation of the lush and mellow segments as well as the majestic, soaring ones on these tunes. Various medieval instruments, or instruments played in a manner like they did in the old days, add the folk element to the musical landscape explored here. Blackmore provides quite a few of these moods by way of various string instruments, while others come courtesy of instruments such as accordion, violin, recorders and assorted percussion. The end result is an intriguing mix of modern mellow rock and more ancient-sounding folk music, with the vocals of Candice Night as the main feature. The compositions aren't complex as such, but quite a few songs have shorter parts or longer segments containing technically challenging performances. Still, this release is more about mood and atmosphere and less about challenging technical or structural borders. In fact there's a distinct mainstream approach to the album overall, somewhat underlined by the cover of the early '60s pop song Can't Help Falling in Love. The top notch mix and production gets the most out of these creations too – this is one of the best releases I've come across so far in 2008 in these departments.
Conclusion. Blackmore's Night has gathered itself a good-sized following, all of whom will have an interest in this release. Fans of folk rock, in particular those who enjoy this style of music performed with a mainstream tinge to it, should also consider checking out this one.
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