There have been so many great albums to ‘pick at’ and fall in love with this year. Anna von Hausswolff, Anna Calvi and Goldheart Assembly produced albums of such quality you wondered if they would be bettered. Dear Reader though released an album, ‘Rivonia’ that transcended dark subject matter (in the form of stories and anecdotes) with melodies that you would have thought it impossible to bring together, and for that matter work. An album of such beauty, and a personal in-site to her South African birthplace, it stood head and shoulders above the rest.
It was then, with a little apprehension, I was handed and asked to review a new live recording of the album. For me live versions of albums seldom work that well (unless the gig itself was a life changing experience for the audience member in question) and very rarely sell in large numbers. However, the premise for this exquisite release was very, very different.
Potsdam-based radio Station Radio Eins offered Cherilyn MacNeil (aka Dear Reader) the opportunity to perform the songs of ‘Rivonia’ with the added dramatic texture of an entire symphonic orchestra. The artist accepted and the incredible ‘We Followed Every Sound’ was born.
The original ‘Rivonia’ songs are taken to a new level. There’s a warmth to them that has you fumbling for the repeat button time and time again. Stand out songs from ‘Rivonia’ such as ‘Back from the Dead’, ‘From Now On’ and the outstanding ‘Good Hope’ offer escapism and a degree of ecstasy it’s simply too difficult to put into words.
Other tracks, from previous albums are also given the orchestral treatment. ‘Great White Bear’, ‘Dearheart’ and ‘Idealistic Animals’ work perfectly alongside the ‘Rivonia’ subject matter. Huge praise should not only go to the artist, and her incredible vocal performance, but also to the outstanding orchestral arrangement. The combination of the two offers us one of the stand-out albums of 2013.
The full track listing for this 6th December release is as follows…
1. Back From the Dead
2. Cruelty on Beauty on
4. Down Under, Mining
5. From Now On
6. Good Hope
7. Great White Bear
9. Man of the Book
10. Teller of Truths
11. Took Them Away
12. Whale (boohoo)
Download: Great White Bear, Good Hope
Rating: 5 out of 5