Album review: WARMRAIN – Back Above The Clouds

WARMRAIN - Back Above The Clouds

Rain Recordings [Release date 07.06.19]

Promoted as a ‘must have’ for fans of Pink Floyd, Steven Wilson and Anathema, a double ‘concept’ album is one hell of a gamble for a full length debut.

But such is the conviction of English singer songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Leon J Russell (no relation) – a man weaned on albums such as Quadrophenia, Tommy, Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall in the late sixties/early seventies.

Majoring on the more ethereal moments of the likes of Floyd, Wishbone and Home all wrapped in one double album package, it’s fairly safe to say, had Back Above The Clouds been released in the early seventies ‘WarmRain’ would have been indelibly scribed on many a sixth former’s rucksack.

But most of that generation have long since given up record buying, now eagerly awaiting the extra spending power of their State Pension.  Although a significant proportion no doubt indulged in The Endless River.

And Back Above The Clouds is a bit like an endless river.  Virtually every number conforms to a pattern of a gentle, wistful, opening, building slowly – through a meandering mid-section – to a mild ethereal climax.  Although for the most part, a bit like for most of us ‘over sixties’, ‘climax’ is something of an overstatement.

Dip in and, combined with an excellent production, it’s a formula that works convincingly well.  But play the full 90 minutes from beginning to end, and by the time you get to disc 2 you’ll likely be overcome by an overwhelming desire for something with a little more ‘life’ in it, with even the audacious, seven minute extended version of The Eurythmics’ Here Comes The Rain Again failing to get out of second gear.

That said, if you’re partial to the occasional spliff and, metaphorically, watching the river flow, then Back Above The Clouds could well be the perfect soundtrack.  But absent hallucinogenic stimulus, I’m sorry, life’s just too short.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

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