Frontiers Music [Release date 13.05.22]
Bonnet’s back catalogue gets frequent outings via the world’s ever popular reissue/ remaster labels. So it’s good to hear some new material from him and this “elegant, late career outfit”, The Graham Bonnet Band.
He’s something of an independent spirit, never one to be captured by fashion, sartorially or indeed, musically. He’s certainly not afraid of self analysis, or of recalling his adolescent awakenings … he describes his encounters with ‘David’s Mom’ and ‘Uncle John’ with a disarming clarity and honesty.
His brush with alcoholism has been well documented. The cleverly titled ’12 Steps To Heaven’ gets into some breathless, soul baring frankness. As does ‘Imposter’. In both songs, self examination is set to jagged edge arrangements, expressed in abrasive, sandpaper harmonies that weave in and out of each track’s solid wall of sound.
They confirm that his songs work best when he achieves a successful marriage of melody and drama.
You can’t help but feel like the voyeur though, picking through the psychological darkness of the man’s past. You have to assume he’s achieving a kind of catharsis here.
Then there’s the voice, of course. Bonnet maintains an hugely impressive vocal intensity all through the album. Like lightning in a bottle, fighting to get out.
Amazingly, he still gets traction on the upper slopes of his skyscraping range, pushing each performance to the edge.
Compared to those earlier tracks, ‘Brave New World’ and ‘The Sky Lives’ fit moreso inside our ideas of hard rock/metal convention. Lyrically deft, both songs, one riff driven, melodic hard rock, the other a thick slice of rampant power metal, are equally well delineated by Conrado Pesinato’s fine guitar work. He dictates all the necessary changes in pace and atmosphere as the narrative progresses and the stories unfold.
Last track, ‘Suzy’, a fragile, heartstring tugging ballad, overshadows most of what’s come before. There’s no band behind Bonnet here, “just” a full blown orchestra. The song is a lyrically simple tale of love found and love lost, full of sadness and regret, beautifully composed and orchestrated.
It’s a magnificently apposite closer. ****
Review by Brian McGowan
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Power Plays w/c 16 May 2022 (Mon-Fri)
FLOYA The Hymn (Arising Empire)
VEXES The Dream Disease (indie)
NEAR DUSK The Way It Goes (Iron Head Records)
IN SEARCH OF SUN Make Me Crazy (indie)
WALLNER VAIN Deceive Her (indie)
FIGHT THE FADE Where You Go I Go (FiXT)
MARATON Non-Euclidean Heart (Indie Recordings)
Featured Albums w/c 16 May (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 TERRA NOVA Ring That Bell (Lion Music)
12:00-13:00 FOZZY Boombox (Mascot)
14:00-16:00 MICHAEL McDERMOTT St.Paul’s Boulevard (Pauper Sky Records)
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