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The Incredible Lightness of Being: Number one in my occasional series, ‘songs to shiver your heart and soul’

Sonnenberg- ‘the end of the rain’ (released in June 2012)

I must admit deep emotional tie to Sonnenberg, their first CD, ‘Fishing In The Pool’, picked up a thread of my life which I thought was long lost, broken ; ran through best and worst of times to follow, every song indelible imprint picking path through mazes of memory, to moments magic and tragic. The hands which held this thread, drawing me so deftly, were those of Geoff Davies, passionate maverick, creator of Liverpool’s first independent record store Probe and its associated record label, Probe Plus; past colliding with present, when unexpectedly reacquainted in Hairy’s record store, we resumed a musical rendezvous, revived from historic relegation, reconnoitre reigniting my respect for this remarkable man, recognised for his resilient, resolute support of music with soul, passion and balls. Coincident with opening of my now demised venue Heart and Soul, Geoff mysteriously materialised from ether was portentous present, his presence precious remnant from a past which had fired my future, his inspiration inadvertently entangled in hopes and aspirations which fed Heart and Soul, I felt truly returned to a place in my heart and soul which I thought was lost ; and he brought with him gifts more precious than gems, music, in particular the Sonnenberg CD which traced Heart and Soul’s soundtrack, tracked the beat of its heart from blissful to broken. Only a classic could have weathered such a test of time, emotion and fickle fashion; just as it captured me, that CD captivated my customers whatever the musical climate, it sang our souls from beginning to end.

A place on Probe Plus is hard won, not driven by money; small rewards reaped, ploughed back into Probe, only thing to prise precious pennies from Geoff’s wallet is pulsating passion and, more often than not, seeking salvation from sleek and meek, strident stance in mouths that shout. Sonnenberg does not shout but, these softly sung contemplations pierce like scream, delving deep into well of life, driven by insistent musical devotion, penniless, leaving their homeland, Sonnenberg packed hope and travelled to Liverpool, where Geoff, kindred spirit, genius for recognising the genuine, heard their call. Since then, Sonnenberg has seen several incarnations, but its unifying strand, silver filament stitching  its soul, strumming its heart beat, sowing its spirit, its zeitgeist, is musician, singer, songwriter, ‘Zinney’, his inspiration breathing its life force. From moment I heard Zinney sing, I immediately understood why he deserved Geoff’s dotage;  I hope Zinney will forgive me when I say, he has a depth which only comes through maturity, bearing life’s scars, but then, there is something else; I admire many ‘singer/songwriters’ but, Zinney is like no other, he is not reminiscent of anyone, neither in vocal timbre nor melodic construct; highly melodic, deeply reflective, voice steeped in emotion, his musicality and lyricism is uniquely his own, steeped in humility and humanity, he bares and bears his soul with utmost honesty. Which is why, having worn out two copies of ‘Fishing In The Pool’, I am ecstatic to introduce my CD player to Sonnenberg’s new offering, ‘the end of the rain’.

Taking up where ‘Fishing In The Pool’ left, in deepest doldrums, ‘the end of the rain’ retains sense of wonderment but lifts air of despair from its parting sad soliloquy , travelling through seasons of life to come full circle, to that quiet place which age, acceptance and understanding brings. Zinney’s spirit shining strong is ardently embraced by a new Geoff inspired line up, Dave Thom’s extraordinary talent on all things stringed, and Saul Hughes mystical tablas, conjuring atmospheric landscapes, illuminating mindscapes, lighting  Zinney’s lyricism, igniting his poetry, at one with his songs. Like ‘Fishing In The Pool’, every song is memorable, musically and lyrically, melodically entrancing, entirely its own but, once again, though riveting, this is not an easy ride, just as intensely introspective, ‘the end of the rain’ plunges depths of human psyche which few dare to delve, evoking emotion so eloquently it would be easy to dissolve into tears, but, this time, light of hope shines bright, glimmers through gloom, the spirit that saves, when darkness falls. Riding rainbow waves of emotion, ‘the end of the rain’, finds no pot of gold, but refracting shine through rain, illuminates radiant colours which light our souls, touching the tender core of us all. Showing us luminescence in darkness, joy through pain, Zinney has a talent for revealing the incredible lightness of being. My usual problem, in reviewing this album, I cannot be concise, I know the careful thought behind its structure, so I have taken it in playlist order, song by song, step by step, trailing tail of woebegone dog, bluely beguiling, beckoning from its cover as it tracks its tale:

‘the end of the rain’: Though I have heard innumerable versions of this inspiration for the album, both live and recorded, each time I have been just as captured, enraptured, entranced; I never tire of yearning to hear it in yet another guise, like sun glimmering through rain, myriad facets, infinite illuminations, interpretations, wash its face clean, colours glowing, a song which never runs dry of beauty. This version strokes emotion, conjures atmosphere from first notes of Zinney’s signature tender, twinkling guitar strum and hushed, husky caress of heart pull vocal, “I saw a light across the water... thought I heard someone calling my name...” wafts smoky incense over troubled waters, before cracking wide smile, breaking like “...sun at the end of the rain..” banjo banter gleefully glimmering, bass bouncing, drums sauntering, poignantly taking up story from final track on Sonnenberg’s previous release, ‘Fishing In The Pool’, sombre toll, tale of betrayal, ‘Walk Upon Water’, “ cold...colder than the coldest winter ever...dark, so dark...I can’t see a way in front of me....” dark despondency driven away by new season of hope, Sonnenberg re emerges whistling new tune, boat rowed through storms, “...I lost my faith....betrayed my lover...made mistakes...hung my head in shame...” to sunnier shores, “...was forgiven...saw the sun at the end...spark of hope in desperation...”

Like all of Zinney’s songs ‘the end of the rain’ is so nakedly, emotionally descriptive, so compelling in cutting open compassion’s bleeding heart, so painfully honest in  observing human frailties, deeply buried introspections, despondency, doubts, shame, remorse, it is impossible not to smile through tears, at hope that glows, flows, floods though this song, like sun through rain. A Sonnenberg classic, uniquely fluent musical language, part folk, part pure Zinney, ardently emotive, which undeniably, inescapably encapsulates emotion drawn straight from the heart, a song which captivates, lingers long; no longer forlorn, a Sonnenberg smile well worth waiting for.

‘asylum’: Unequivocally vocal violoncello speaks poignant, evocatively expressive volumes conjoined with more conventional communication, caustic yet resigned commentary, tale of day to day drudgery, state of our world, wan, withdrawn vocal, “...being the fat man’s fattening store...firmly with my back against the wall...playing his game...hides in a policy jungle...covers the body of lives he has claimed...he never was ashamed...”, breaking into joyous homecoming chorus “....I don’t mind...when I find... asylum in your arms...” truly touching, tender song, pertinently perfect evocation of light of love, illuminating life, safe haven from tribulations of torn, tawdry world; trudge, grudge and hurt erased by warm, welcoming embrace.

‘warm bath’: Track 3, ‘warm bath’, doubly confused me, it didn’t sound like a Sonnenberg song but inner sleeve indicates that track 4 is the only song without Zinney’s compositional input, so I am taking a leap here, sticking to my guns in assuming it is actually ‘warm bath’ which is written by Dave Thom (stick me with my own petard if I am wrong). Sun kissed vocals, laid back, languid, instrumentation luxuriantly lapping, wallowing in seaside idyll, “’s a fine thing to be in a house by the sea...”   glittering, sunny slip of a song, evokes essence remarkably reminiscent of The Beatles, for some reason Octopus’s Garden springs to mind; though this song doesn’t appear to sing in Sonnenberg’s usual musical tongue, “... you’ll find no hidden meaning... in this song... the words describe exactly what they say...”,  Zinney’s honeyed , reflective vocal make it his own and as the lyrics say,“... it’s a break for me... it’s a warm bath for you... everybody needs a sunny day...”, brief hiatus, respite from careworn times, worries washed away awhile, bathed in balm, this really is warm bath of a song.

‘mazes of meaning’: Refreshed, ‘mazes of meaning’ dives dark throbbing bass once again into deeper Sonnenberg waters, riding its waves, as hope filters through, casting a “...rainbow dawn...”, optimism lighting the way to “...paradise...the place within your eyes...” Fluttering instrumentation, tremulous vocal, trembling butterfly wings, small stuttering steps, breathless, ready to believe in release of resolution “...finding our place within the mazes of meaning...”, a song as delicate, fleeting and fragile as hope itself.

‘another ship’: And while hope waits with baited breath, ‘another ship’ sails; like the ‘end of the rain’ once again drawing rain/shine tears, a classic which drew me in from first chords and words, “...another ship is sailing...leaves me watching at the shore...” Contemplative lone guitar, mistily melancholic vocal, squeeze of accordion, harbour haze at dawn, clearly drawn with minimal, yet utterly magical musical strokes, heart sunk by deep dusty, bottom of barrel, thudding bass, wrung by wailing weep of Dave Thom’s extraordinarily emotive, crystal clear, Chris Isaak’s style electric guitar,  liquid droplets, rivulet of tears, weaving, bantering, tangling tongue in counterpoint with vocal, ebbing, flowing, teasing tantalisation, just out of reach, before sailing, soaring into Dire Straitish stratosphere of yearning realisation , as life’s mirage retreats to distant shores, “...distant dot on the horizon...disappears forever more...” This song, subtly yet intricately interwoven with layers of nuance, has one of those constructions, melodically, instrumentally and lyrically, which moves mysterious places, stirs and shivers the soul, Zinney’s exceptional empathy, fired with Dave Thom’s  fantastical flame of virtuosity, fused into  extraordinary new whole.

I am torn between this, ‘the end of the rain’ and ‘the road ahead’ for my favourite track on this album but, ‘another ship’ so completely destroys me with its brutally direct, melancholic message , so honestly looks life in the eye, “... another ship is sailing... passenger without a ticket... in a boat that never feels the sea...” , so utterly moves me, I have to admit, if shipwrecked, with only choice of one, this is the song I would probably save, even though its message would be unlikely to leave me with much hope.

‘save me’: Reading my mind, the next track happens to be ‘save me’, isolated instrumentation, gloriously glimmering guitars, grievous grief glimpsed through tears; solitary, sole, lone voice, trapped on his own desert island, meekly yearning, pleading for release, weary, wary, woebegone whisper wistfully wonders, “ friends to come I so wrong to say no one will miss me... will you... save me... save me from...myself....” Poignantly honest about the walls we build which come crashing down “...towers that I thought so strong...silent walls are... swaying...”, yet like human spirit, light flickers in darkness of this song, lighthouse beam that guides us on, to face a new dawn.

forever’: ‘forever’, marches drums relentlessly through seasons of life and love, time increasingly fleeting, on butterfly wings, from “... summers...endless...chasing adventures...vowed our love would never die...forever...” through autumn winds “...sweeping leaves round our feet...distant memories....the love that we shared...faded note in a dairy...” to “...sometimes forever is over... when...winter comes...”, succinct, sweet, life’s ephemeral heartbeat encapsulated.

‘cold ashes’: ‘cold ashes’ continues to shiver in winter chills, “...once there was...a heart on fire...never mind it’s all over....I’m alright...I’m only dying...”, stricken, throbbing, heavy hearted bass, reflective vocal , wringing hands with weeping, grieving violoncello, swooping into echelons of sweet remembrance, flying to spires on wings of stunning guitar solo, celebrates life, even in death.

‘sweet life’:  Life miraculous arises from ashes with mystical mouth harp moan, violoncello in graceful guise of sitar , tender, twanging toll of tabla , eternal circle of life reflected in raag like trance, elevated to euphoria by Eastern enchantment, floating on a cloud above degradation and despair, life itself, lotus flower of hope, “....white as snow...stronger than fear... sweet, sweet life....”;  merged with accordion and guitars, melding east and west into joyous psychedelic chant, melting fear and doubt.

‘the road ahead’: Sanctified by spiritual solace, though still sorrowful of soul, ‘the road ahead’ shimmers beguilingly; lonesome, lilting acoustic guitar and vocal, ‘pack on back’ travelling companions, “...merciless time moves along as I look away... that I am still here doesn’t mean... that I’m here to stay... my restless heart...rolls along with the road...” and then, out of nowhere, the most moving, melancholic scrap of heart tearing melody and lyric, emotion intensified by mournful recorder and lyrical violoncello,“...before you kiss me goodbye...hold onto me for a little while...let me just linger a bit longer...”  caught unawares, dissolves me to tears with its tremulant vocal.

‘he maya’: I think only a song as ebullient as ‘he maya’ could follow, lift the mood; marvellous mystical mayhem, it demonstrates how God moves in mysterious ways through Geoff (Davies), genius glimpsed through grumpy glower, unmasked as life affirming prophet, riddling his own religion in tongues beyond ken of most mortal men, creating an universal language, instantly identifiable, musically and vocally, even when heavily ‘effected’, mutated through electronica and other mind altering mediums. Evoked by Eastern entreaties, it is his mantra, floating, cloaked in clouds of echo, Hitchcock like cameo Buddha, entrancing us into this song, casting spells in whoosh of smoke, conjuring cast of Probe wraiths and waifs to wrap Sonnenberg in warm embrace, shaman chants which mean nothing and everything, weave and waft exotic magic , mists of despair dispelled, rain turned to shine, leading Sonnenberg joyfully by the hand to psychedelic, roller coaster rainbow beyond life’s cares: “...I refuse to believe...that this is intended to be the end...  if it was... it’s only another reason... to love you more... as long as my feet carry me just one single step on my way ... even if I am doomed...something is pushing me on...” Epitome of the wall of Geoff sound, joyously abandoned, unbounded spirit of the man gloriously set free, extraordinary assimilation of musical cultures, holding hands across eras and nations, eastern mysticism meets funky bass, meets screaming rock guitar, meets angelic choir, sprinkled with fizz of psychedelic sparkle, rabble roused by marauding saviour to anthemic chorus, fist in air, two fingers up to convention, Zinney carried triumphant on their shoulders. A Geoff classic, love it, impossible not to be energised by such enticing exuberance.

‘end of the (t)rain-home made version’: Which takes us sliding down the other end of the rainbow, to meet ‘end of the (t)rain-home made version’, returning full circle to peaceful garden in which we began this riveting ride through raw reality of life’s emotions; chirruping birds, chug of distant train, guitar and banjo shimmering, glimmer of  sun, deep lunging bass, balm to the soul, gentle tabla, soft caress, carries us back home, on gentle wings, where love waits, shining sun wherever rain falls, where roses bloom in winter storms. 

A totally engaging album, which doesn’t scream and shout but delves deep into dark depths of our human psyche, to illuminate spirit of humanity with a light so forceful it is impossible not to listen.

There are no YouTube videos for any of the songs on this album, so I will just have to play you out with 'stay', one of my favourite songs from 'Fishing In The Pool':

Soul Searching: Number two in my occasional series, ‘songs to shiver your heart and soul’

Perri Alleyne-Hughes and Neil Campbell- ‘then’ (released in May 2012)

I am always amazed by breadth of Neil Campbell’s musicianship, his embrace, mastery of musical styles and idioms seems unbounded; in Liverpool venues as disparate as St George’s concert hall, open air St Luke’s bombed church, swish venue to dingy basement bar, I have stood open mouthed as this unprepossessing man, possessed by music, morphs fluidly fluent from virtuosic Spanish classical guitar to singer/songwriter modern folk, acoustic, band, Indie, pop, soundscapes, rock opera, progressive rock and on this album, together with singer/songstress, Perri Alleyne-Hughes, a new genre, unique to them, forged from fires of pure emotion and musical talent of two extraordinary musicians, conjoined as one constellation. Invariably there will be comparisons to Cleo Laine and John Dankworth, in their mutual musical prescience, in range of Perri’s smoky though not quite as contralto tones, in  scattering of scat, in organic, stream of consciousness, improvisational feel, in artistry of melodic constructs , in instrument used as articulate voice, in this case guitar rather than saxophone, in voice used as instrument; but to my ears, while there are elements of jazz, this is not jazz as I know it; like much of  Neil’s music whilst sounding elementally evolved, musical structures are tightly controlled, while vocals flow between poetry and prose, sometimes pure notes, lyrics are drawn from deeply considered thought; this is fusion of two very different musical backgrounds , both highly intuitive, which inform and enhance each other to conceive a new whole.

Though Neil collaborates with a huge range of musicians, with Perri this goes beyond musical, to an emotional connection, alignment which intensely colours the music they create, making it totally unlike anything I have heard from either, while retaining, even clarifying, essential essence of both. Thinking about it, perhaps it is no surprise that Neil and Perri fit together so seamlessly, both have musical styles which freely flow, hung on strong musical bones, which leaves room for improvisation, allows personal development, without wandering aimlessly into introspective soliloquy. Neil’s music has always burned with emotional intensity; Perri’s influence exposes its tender heartbeat; while Neil’s reinforces, reveals poetry and wisdom of her whimsical words, lends a different ear to her soulful sound. This singular conjunction when intently focused, with fervent ardency, on subject of love, as it is on this album, could be so consuming that it becomes overwhelming, exclusive to them but; live, in relatively intimate circles, which in Liverpool includes most musical audiences, physical presence of performers casts palpable aura radiating such unpretentious sincerity, audience is effortlessly engaged, falling headfirst into their love story;  recorded, such intimacy could seem like voyeuristic exploration of someone else’s head but again, beguiling personalities, guileless passion of the protagonists shines through their music, eavesdropped pillow talk blushes avoided, overtaken by unavoidable engrossment in life’s twisting tale.

Let me be clear, though love, passion and deep emotion is raison d’être for this album; runs rampant through its beautiful, languid, laid back melodies, lyrics torn with tenderness; this is not a hoochie, coochie, smoochy album, gravitas runs grief’s gauntlet, cold hard steel claims its pound of flesh in the telling, reality rains from heavy clouds which linger corners of every heart, singing humanity’s sorrows while shining its spirit bright, a highly original, inspirational love song, which dares to dive deep into the human psyche while exploring its extraordinary resilience. I know, in reviews, conciseness is king but, with albums such as this, carefully constructed, song following song, chapters in a story, I have no choice but to consider each, in order conceived, to make the picture complete, so starting at beginning, or ring of eternity’s end, the first words of ‘then’ are :

‘beyond words’: Sparkling guitar, tender twinkle contemplating much loved one; lolloping , loose limbed double bass, strings vibrating, joyously plucked, bliss brimming over, slipping, sliding;  lilting shimmering, scintillating start, setting mood for an album, drenched, doused in love, into which  drifts Perri’s smoky tones, infused with devotion, straight from the soul. Scatting, floating her vocal to intermingle, compassionate caress, wreathing its breath, intimately entwined, yet easy and free, expressing, seeking words for, feelings “...beyond words...beyond doubt...” wandering wonderingly “...path of our love...” setting free the music as it “ its beauty out...”, hand in loving hand, symbiosis which shines, Perri and Neil’s musicality intertwines, interlocks like two halves of the same heart, conjoined, infused with golden glow , suffused with amour , a song speaking volumes, without need to shout, wrought from pure passion, of that there’s no doubt.

‘both of you’: Imbued with intimate intensity of infinite unconditional love, intently infused with maternal pride, marvelling at miracle of motherhood, movingly expressed as only a mother may; Perri’s ode to her two creations, consummately captures tenderness beyond compare, from deep, warm, bass embrace, to guitar’s Spanish passion, swish of protective matador cape, to warm blanket of a vocal so poignant, it makes your heart break. Lyrics tumbling forth, tale bursting to be told, which every mother knows, rejoices, rediscovers each day anew, racing with bubbling, bouncing double bass feet, swirling, swooping with sweetly picked guitar strings, flying to the sun, fleeting with sunny spring of youth, as fast as innocence is lost, determined to catch each and every drop. “...I watch you grow too’re my babies still....the time will come too soon... when innocence has had its fill....”

‘sunday song’: Gentle, doting guitar, dextrous double bass and dulcet, drenched in love vocal, languid as  reflective Sunday stroll, “... on those  long winding roads that make up life’s journey...”,where love lays in wait, “... will never forget the day our paths crossed...”shimmering unexpected sun through misty, mournful haze, “...cloudy skies turned blue...”, beacon of light at end of dark path, jewel in mire of world weary heart, takes us to the moment when two kindred spirits, “... sitting on the shore of love...” take the plunge, dive deep waters, “...thought of diving in with you...most exquisite feeling...I could not ignore...” exchanging breath, to emerge as one, shining souls united, reignited, never  to be parted. “... the light that shines from you is what I want in my heart...want to dive back in...stay there...forever....” Part poetry, part prose, vocal melody lilts, sways, brushes hands, bumps hips with lovers to be, in not so innocently nonchalant stroll , auras tentatively touching, lapping, flowing into one overwhelming liquid love, undeniable desire “...drenched in sweetness..” two halves melted into one whole, “...want to hold you safe in my arms...take you to the place where my soul lives...”Guitar roused to sensual Spanish passion, sparkling eyes flashing, drowned in dilation, limbs entangled in close embrace, inseparably entwined, vocal deluge of emotion. Neil plucks Perri’s heartstrings while she sings his; in perfect harmony, harmonised whole. Whether literal or metaphoric, such graphic intimacy could bloom blushes but brave heart speaks true word, and this imperative, involuntary expression of pure love is spoken with such open hearted honesty and compulsion, ”... treasure beyond all measure...”it takes ones breath away.

‘Clouds’: Composed by Neil, classic Campbell effects and spooky sliver of guitar , shiver a whisper, weave chill winds, as Perri draws ghostly breath from his mouth, sigh exhaled like wisp of mist from shadowed soul, trapped in Snow Queen’s cold, cold home “... been walking under clouds...too long...feelings under shrouds...too long...” Like his opera ‘Ghosts’, palpitations prickled, spectral scene is set “...singing someone else’s song in the dark...”, conjuring heart grown numb, icy splinters freezing sun, burying roses underground. But then, that subtle twist of guitar tone, mood and melodic poignancy, slow unfurling in a way which Neil has made his own, blossoming shoots of hope, clearing skies, dispelling gloom, heart melted by warm tears of love, splinters washed out of eyes, to once again fly “...out into space...beyond the stars...out of my life...into your arms....”, to eternity. Drifting between minor keys, maudlin misery to mystical wonderment; though hope is reborn, love walking in sun, much remains unresolved, shadowy reminders of what lurks beyond ; a deeply descriptive, moving musical portrayal of how love can make or break our fragile human psyche, Neil’s guitar possessing power of intensely articulate expression, beyond words, speaking straight to the soul.

‘walking with the sun’: Finds that resolution, relief in realisation of a path that’s true; leaving lies behind, letting go of guilt, this Campbell composition opens to the sun in cymbal shimmer, double bass plunging heart to boots, skipping, head held high to sky, guitar glimmering, glittering like a big wide grin. Again, Neil speaks directly, intently through his guitar, while Perri is true to  words she sympathetically takes from his mouth and heart, adding no slant, depth of innate understanding softly spoken, yet writ unashamedly loud, short but intensely sweet.

‘dream of you and I’: Perri’s own words in her own musical voice, seamlessly picks up Neil’s thread, falls in step, sings same yearning song, Gerda to his Kai, soul awakened by love’s kiss, her “ is turning once again...” Gentler, softer sentiment, awe infused vocal intuitively echoed by Neil’s tenderly picked guitar, stroking love freely, openly expressed, strumming her soul, “ body wake me up I’m living in a dream....” , intensely intimate contemplation, reverentially captured, fluttering and fragile as butterfly wings.

‘surround me’: Irrevocably taken prisoners of love, ‘surround me’ is incandescent with its luminosity, fire fly guitar, flits to and fro, glitters, skitters, settling, breaking into warm smile, silver strand of melody, luxuriating in fireside glow, flashing embers, sparking Perri’s vocal, curling wisp of smoke, “...when the light wears thin...that’s when I need your arms around me...” spiralling to ethereal heights, where angelic chorus rides its clouds,  “...each touch leaving air...where once was ground...”wafting, weaving, ebbing, flowing, enveloping, wrapping its arms around you.

‘like music’: Reflectively radiant, deeply sincere, dewy droplets of guitar, stars glinting through velvet night of vocal, unequivocally offers utmost compliment a lover can give, “ the edge of time and space...deep in the dark of my are just like music to me...” ethereal and captivating as siren song, guitar and vocal exploring infinite universe of each other.

‘then’: Most dramatic song on the album, trickle of guitar, welling to exquisitely melodic tears, diving deep down double bass slide, into waterfall torrent of melody where it twists and turns, in scintillating, syncopated dance, through shade and light, with tumbling, babbling brook double bass and shimmering spectral vocals floating over tempestuous undercurrents, rising to the sky, falling to the ground; this song showcases breadth and coloration of Perri’s voice, effortlessly swooping between registers which scale smoky heights and dredge deep velvet depths, as well as Neil’s prodigious virtuosity and musical acumen; emotion and atmosphere twisting on subtlest knife edge of musical turns; of all songs on this album ,‘then’ most powerfully describes dark and light of life, resolute resilience of human spirit, rising from ashes, no matter how deep the depths to which it falls. Sucker for sliding key changes, prickling sevenths and teasing resolutions, this song could not fail to captivate me.

‘shadowlands’: Perri and Neil, alone in each other’s musical arms, contemplative but clear, serene simplicity, last wrenching breaths, which say it all, hearts entwined forever, love scribed on their souls. “....our souls are flying the end of the very last day...I am here for you....”  Sealed with solemn kiss, serenade to love beyond words, sung straight from the heart, travelling through tears, through darkness and plight, through human struggle, into the light, an inspirational album, the greatest gift two lovers could give.

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