Cardiacs keyboardist/singer William D. Drake shows no sign of stopping. With four albums up in his sleeve, including The Rising of the Lights which was my album of the year for 2011, he is now back again on his fifth album and it is a real return for Drake himself. Revere Reach is a welcoming experience for him and his friends to get the wheels going at the right speed at the right time.
I remember hearing Drake’s music on an episode of Sid Smith’s Podcasts from the Yellow Room back in 2011. And I was hooked right from the moment I heard The Mastodon. And soon I bought The Rising of the Lights and William D. Drake is one of my favorite artists. He shows a lot of humor and amazing ideas he brings to the table when he writes a song and takes it to a whole new level.
The lyrics themselves are spot on. Whimsical, emotional, and Victorian essence that captures the atmosphere of the 19th and early beginnings of the 20th century in the Steampunk momentum. And the music itself is a dosage of Prog, Psychedelic, and Folk music combined into one with the wacky, melodic, and touching side of it. Not to mention the tributes to both Syd Barrett, the Canterbury sound of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, and Tim Smith of the Cardiacs.
With a lyric like: “Sentimental of seas/keeper of the trees/whisperer of the earth and divide/precious moments/that passed us by/will collide with a vengeance.” You have to admit, it has an excellent charm of protecting earth, the waters, and trees before it collides with a heavy price to pay which helps open the album up with a thumping and cheerful introduction for Distant Buzzing.
Drake carries the waltz melodies into place. Songs like the carousel-ascending dance of Lifeblood, the surreal short instrumental between the Liferaft, and the ominous sing-along reminiscent of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s darker lyrics set in a haunted cavern of a person singing alone with the piano as the two dancers help out with the piece on Orlando and the sailing wonders for the Heart of Oak.
He carries a bewitching charm on compositions that aren’t rosy and love song related, but more of what is happening in the turn of the century that are stories that people in them are going through the troubles. In Converse shows Drake and Andrea Parker in a singing mode taking turns on the vocals as the mood of the melody carries a beautiful classical touch on the acoustic piano while the catchy mini-opera on the fall of the King of Lewisham in the realms of Gentle Giant with a humoristic touch of London Town being a safe place to be with The Catford Clown.
William brought along the brothers Richard and James Larcombe (Stars in Battledress), Jon Bastable on Bass, Stephen Gilchrist on Drums, Nicky Baigent on Woodwinds, Andrea Parker on Glockenspiel, Mini Tambourine, and Vocals, along with special guests Rhordi Marsden on Musical Saw, Mario Castronari on Double Bass, and Chris Powell on Percussion.
Revere Reach is going up for a lot of competitions this year for 2015's album of the year. It is well-structured, unexpected momentum, and steadily massive for Drake by coming to another round for the table of magical wonders.