Dave Bainbridge tackles pandemic thoughts with an optimistic approach to create a typically beautiful collection of music.
Release Date: available now
Label: Open Sky Records
Formats: CD / digital
Last seen on our pages with Lifesigns and their Altitude album, Dave Bainbridge may be a familiar name from his work on several projects. Often tagged with the Prog label, these include the transcendent Iona, Strawbs, Celestial Fire, Glass Hammer – the list goes on – plus his duo work with Sally Minnear who also appears on To The Far Away.
His latest solo work sees him collaborating with a trusted set of musical friends, in particular with poet and lyricist Lynn Caldwell. Compiled over the inevitable isolation period, the material is typical of Dave to use the enforced solitude as inspiration; pondering over the important things in life. Optimism, hope and the spirit of positivity shine through on a set that encompasses the progressive / classical / Celtic / Rock recipe that Dave Bainbridge makes his own.
Whilst his own guitar and style is almost instantly recognisable, so too is that of the pipes and whistles of Troy Donockly which add an air of space and ethereality. Whether it’s a set of Caldwell words, an original lyric, something taken from classic verse or an instrumental passage, everything comes wrapped in glorious musical textures.
To The Far Away is dominated by the feel and tone of the guitar that often sees Dave Bainbridge mentioned in the same breath as Dave Gilmour, Andy Latimer and Steve Hackett. It would be churlish not to mention Dave’s recent third placing in the ‘Best guitarist’ category recent PROG readers poll at this point. You’ll occasionally be transported to some sonic areas where you’ll find Hackett and Anthony Phillips – those two guitar stalwarts of Genesis – at play, in particular Phillips’ light touch of the acoustic guitar and the ‘Hackett does the blues’ style and tone in As Night Falls. Not that here’s any hint of lack of originality. The Bainbridge star shines brightly, plowing its own furrow with aplomb particularly on Fells Point and the title track.
As a centerpiece, the stunning, theatre tradition inspired, Ghost Light manages to cover most of not all bases. Setting out on a fourteen minute odyssey with a soaring, close but not quite, blues guitar line and arousing “All that we give, all that inspires…” Floyd/Brain Damage chorus, it’s a treasure trove; a gift that keeps giving. The latter statement could well be the theme of the album. Girl And The Magical Sky manages similar in a shorter burst, including the first of several spin tingling guitar parts that emerges from a gentle piano interlude. You can literally sense the excitement in the growing intensity.
And that’s where the sequencing of the more pastoral instrumental pieces fits perfectly, to provide a calm after the storm. The ringing guitar notes and melody lines on Rain And Sun paint an evocative picture and the restrained classical arrangement on Infinitude gives a peaceful interlude and moment to catch the breath. A similarly beautifully relaxing ambience sweeps across the start of Speed Your Journey before an impressive ensemble playing sequence, the busy bass and drum parts of particular note, kicks in. In celebration of the glorious effects of reducing air pollution, Clear Skies provides a lively burst of Celtic Rock and another inspired burst of searing guitar that leads into Iron Maiden territory – anyone else get a whiff of Phantom Of The Opera? – if not the soundtrack to some sports car advert.
Concluding on the aptly titled grand finale of Something Astonishing, once again, the overarching impression is of slow build to a climactic curtain call and epilogue of natural ambience. A piece that emphasis the uplifting swell and powerful force of the music and the spirit. And that’s the key word – ‘uplifting’ – the quality that the music ofDave Bainbridge offers and the ultimate reward of experiencing To The Far Away. It’s an an emotional tour de force that has Dave declaring: “I hope that, as well as capturing some of the heartache of the time, it also leaves the listener with a sense of hope and optimism, that in the end, love will triumph.” Ultimately, To The Far Away provides more evidence for the case of how life’s trials and tribulations can unwittingly be the catalyst to create great art.
Watch the official promo for the album here:
Keep an eye on our pages for an upcoming Why I Love feature written by Dave.