Album review: DOWNES BRAIDE ASSOCIATION – Skyscraper Souls

David Randall chatted to Chris Braide in October 2015 and this hour special provides background to the singer-songwriter’s career and on hooking up with Geoff Downes.  First broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio.


Magical Think Tank Records [Release date 17.11.17]

The third album from the Downes Braide Association, which is Geoff Downes (Asia/Yes) and singer/songwriter Chris Braide, who has worked with a whole host of artists including Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Marc Almond, who appears on this album. As a testament to modern working neither of the musicians were ever in the same room during the making of this album, not that you’d notice! The sound and production is spot on and a real treat on the headphones.

Unlike the previous two albums the DBA have a core band consisting of Ash Soan (drums), Andy Hodge (bass) and Dave Colquhoun (guitars). Our esteemed managing editor David Randall is a big fan and he thoroughly enjoyed DBA’s last album, 2015′s ‘Suburban Ghosts’.

Opening with ‘Prelude’ we get the first guest spot, from none other than XTC’s Andy Partridge, who plays the guitar solo and adds his backing vocals. He also appears on two further songs on the album, making this one of definite interest to XTC fans given his rare musical appearances.

There is a theme running through the album of going forward in life because you can’t go back, although the uplifting music counteracts the sometimes darker lyrics. Mind you there is the odd bit of light hearted relief, as on the title track Chris Braide sings ‘There is a voice inside us all’ to which Geoff Downes responds with ‘Hello’ via his vocoder.

The title track is a mammoth eighteen minutes long, although it is like three pop/prog songs linked together and what a marvellous bit of guitar playing from Dave Colquhoun. The keys of Geoff Downes and Chris Braide weave in between the guitars and vocals of Chris Braide, who has a wonderfully melodic singing voice.

More interest for prog fans as Big Big Train’s David Longdon guests on ‘Tomorrow’, a song with its wistful melody and flute (played by Langdon) wouldn’t look out of place on a Big Big Train album. Tim Bowness adds backing vocals to the pop refrains of ‘Lighthouse’, again the musical backing reveals more on each subsequent play.

Marc Almond puts in a suitably impressive vocal on ‘Skin Deep’, another singer who seems to get better with age and has lost none of his vocal prowess.

Pop, prog and rock melded together in one wonderful album. Don’t let this album become a ‘lost classic’ – enjoy it now! ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 30 August 2020.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 8 September 2020.

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