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Saracen - 'Redemption' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/9f/75/08/saracen-redemption-cover-18-1420405797.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 04, 2015    
 
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Another feather in their cap and I look forward to the next forty years (if we all make it) with eager anticipation.

Whenever a new album comes along from Saracen, I always put my name down to review it. Sadly however the Chief Mr Mee (another long time fan) always seems to get there first, but not this time. After their last album, a concept about the life and times of Marilyn Monroe that featured Robin Beck as Monroe, Saracen wanted to go back to a sound that they first had at the start of the 1980s. So, Saracen vocalist Steve Bettney and keyboard player Paul Bradder challenged the band's main song-writer and guitarist (Rob Bendelow) to come up with just such an album and low and behold... if he hasn't come up trumps with the splendid 'Redemption'.

As soon as first track 'Rocamadour' began, I found a big grin starting to spread across my face as the sound they first captured on their classic 'Heroes, Saints & Fools' album from 1981 surged out from my speakers. This isn't however an album of dated material because Bendelow has injected into each of the thirteen songs an up to date, forceful vigour that energizes each of them as you listen. Take for example three cuts; 'Reacher' is based upon the character created by author Lee Child and is dynamic and full of energy as it tells the story of the ex-Marine whereas the beautiful piano led 'Give Me A Sign' features passionate vocals from Bettney asking for help and answers to questions of where we are going as the Human Race. 'Road To Yesterday' is a wonderful song about the loss of a lover and the times we'd like to go back to, if only we could.

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Of all the tracks, 'Catch The Wave' is the one that really takes its cue from '...Fools'. It's a superb mix of keyboards, guitars and those amazing Bettney vocals and the slow, almost Bluesy start, soon segue into a true Saracen classic. The least Saracen-like track on the album, but easily the best offering on it, is the beautiful ballad 'You & I'. The song sees Bettney singing a duet with Karensa Kerr who has worked with the band before. The two sing a yearning love song that sounds and feels like their very hearts are breaking and I could listen to this track over and over and always find something new to enjoy.

It has been almost forty years since the debut Saracen album came into existence and I have followed the band through their highs and lows for all that time and I've always enjoyed what they have recorded. 'Redemption' is another feather in their cap and I look forward to the next forty years (if we all make it) with eager anticipation.

Ian Johnson

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