Thursday, March 26, 2009
Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin Green and Blue
Dave & Barb phone home!
Green and Blue
Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin
Given that their last release, Spin, saw the light of day as long ago as 1991, it’s an understatement to say this new album has been keenly anticipated by Stewart and Gaskin's loyal and supremely patient followers.
Happily, Green and Blue has the duo sounding more confident and accomplished than ever before.
Vestigial traces of Stewart’s prog-centric past are scattered throughout the album. The soaring theme of the opener, Jupiter Rising, easily equals the anthemic bravado of National Health’s Tenemos Road. Similarly, the twinkling complexities of Jupiter's playout and other sections across Green and Blue, remind us that although Stewart largely abandoned long-form music in favour of shorter tracks, his love of detailed intricate composition remains intact.
Further evidence of this is found in the undulating exploration of London’s psycho-geography of Walnut Tree Walk. Complete with Stewart’s trademark fuzz organ sound and skipping solo, this wouldn’t sound out of place on a Hatfield’s record.
Gaskin’s warm voice is set off to perfection in the heavenly ballad, Let Me Sleep Tonight. Across decorous chords she sounds like she was born to bring this paean to love and insomnia into life.
Stewart’s brilliance as an arranger is showcased at every turn and non more so than on the 10 minute title track, or the two-part album closer, The Sweetwater Sea; a nine minute white-water musical excursion with Peter Blegvad as a surreal, declaiming tour guide.
The addition of Gavin Harrison’s drumming throughout the record brings an authoritative, dynamic emphasis and in this he’s helped by Andy Reynolds’ guitar work on rockers such as Rat Circus.
If there is a jarring moment on the album it’s the inclusion of a Beatles cover, Good Morning, Good Morning.
Given the top-notch material surrounding it, there’s a rowdy element that disrupts the prevailing mood of a calm and measured reflection which these sophisticated songs create.
Of course, Stewart has form when it comes to geeing up his audience - remember all those rousing in-concert renditions of I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside? So, wrong-footing the punter in this way may be exactly what Stewart and Gaskin had in mind!
You can buy this album directly from Dave Stewart at Burning Shed.
Released alongside the new album is Hour Moon, a half hour CDR collection of out-takes and Stewart & Gaskin rarities. In for a penny...