Gordon Giltrap & Oliver Wakeman - 'Ravens & Lullabies'

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Gordon Giltrap & Oliver Wakeman - 'Ravens & Lullabies'

Debut collaborative venture between guitar legend Gordon Giltrap and keyboardist Oliver Wakeman.

This debut collaborative venture between guitar legend Gordon Giltrap and keyboardist Oliver Wakeman has produced a highly listenable and hugely enjoyable album for those amongst you who admire and have within your musical collections previous releases by either or both of these two fine musicians. You would not be expecting a rabble-rousing assortment of tunes, and nor (I am sure you will be relieved to know) do you get anything approaching this. What you do get, however, is an album of two halves: wonderfully considered and thought-provoking band numbers complete with vocals alongside generally shorter keyboard/guitar instrumentals showcasing the more restrained and evocative talents of Giltrap and Wakeman, all arranged to perfection.

Six of the seven band tracks feature vocalist Paul Manzi (also the vocalist in the Oliver Wakeman Band), bassist Steve Amadeo (new to me, but apparently an in-demand session guy) and Threshold's ever wonderful drummer Johanne James. The other full band track 'From The Turn Of A Card' alternatively features a great vocal performance from Benoit David – a colleagues of Wakeman's from his recent tenure as keyboardist with Yes: the song apparently written during the 'Fly From Here' sessions. The other six tracks divide into three compositions each from Giltrap and Wakeman and alternate with the band tracks. It's all wonderful music, but it does produce a blend that works better in some places than others and truthfully leaves me wishing for more of the upbeat band numbers.

The very best of these is album opener 'Moneyfacturing' and along with 'Credit Carnival' and 'Maybe Tomorrow' lyrically captures the impression of how unsavoury society is becoming and between them issue damning indictments of greed, envy and self-centredness. The epic 'Is This The Last Song I Write?' is an absolute tour-de-force, its impact having grown with each listen of the album: a song of bitter sweet sadness from which the album's title is lyrically extracted. Manzi's vocals are an absolute triumph, and emotionally just so apposite...

I had rather lost track of Giltrap's career; I have all of his stunning 70s releases such as 'Perilous Journey' and 'Fear Of The Dark' and it is good to know that he retains the trademark guitar tones I loved so much back then. As a CRS member, I am very familiar with Wakeman's own band and other recent engagements and I am frequently amazed at what a chip off the old block he is! Combined – and courtesy of a great mix from Karl Groom – the pair have produced a wonderful album that comes warmly recommended, bearing in mind the parameters mentioned above.

Paul Jerome Smith

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