Dancer And The Moon by Blackmore’s Night

August 28, 2013

Who knew that when Ritchie Blackmore was the lead guitarist for hard rock bands Deep Purple and Rainbow, someday he would find contentment and love as a part of the rock/renaissance band Blackmore’s Night? But here he is 16 years and a dozen or so albums down the road.

The band’s albums tend to have a flow to them. They have fused a modern rock sound with elements of renaissance music into a unique and many times brilliant mix. The band has not veered from that approach, so If you like one album; you will probably like them all. Their latest release, Dancer and the Moon,is except for two tracks mostly more of the same, which should please their ever-growing fan base.

Blackmore’s Night has covered a number of songs by outside writers with varying results. Songs such as “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (Elvis), “First of May” (Bee Gees), “Diamonds and Rust” (Joan Baez), “The Times They Are A-Changin’” (Bob Dylan), and “Celluloid Heroes” (Kinks) have, for better or worse, graced their albums. This time they have recorded the best cover song of their career, Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today.” It is the album’s first track and one where the band veers from their usual approach. It is more of a pop song, since the group changes the song’s tempo, plus Candice Night’s vocals bring a polish to the track. Blackmore’s guitar play is sedated, which provides a subtle foundation for the performance.

The second track, “Troika,” finds the band back in familiar territory. It is English renaissance music meeting the sounds of the Russian Volga boat men. The music then settles in to their well-known groove. It is not their most energetic release, but after several listens the music sneaks up on you to create a pleasant flow. “The Last Leaf,” “Dancer and the Moon,” “The Spinner’s Tale,” and “The Moon Is Shining (Somewhere Over the Sea)” all fit in with their previous work. There is also a beautiful take on the traditional Welsh folk tune, “The Ash Grove.”

The second song that is outside the norm is the album’s last track, “Carry On…Jon.” It is one of the more poignant ones of Blackmore’s career, as it is an instrumental tribute to his old Deep Purple bandmate Jon Lord, who passed away last year. It is an extended guitar solo with a melancholy feel that is a fitting farewell to a person with whom he spent a lot of years.

I tend to like Blackmore’s Night’s music and Dancer and the Moon is a satisfying release. They may or may not have some creative twists and turns in their future but for now, this album will do just fine.$(KGrHqF,!hcE+5h1rW+1BQPZJ4zzog~~60_1


Reflections by Candice Night

January 7, 2013

Candice Night met Ritchie Blackmore when she was a background singer. That chance meeting has evolved into a 15-year musical and romantic relationship. Now Blackmore’s wife, Night has been fronting the renaissance/rock group Blackmore’s Night since 1997. She is now stepping out of the band’s shadow to release the solo album, Reflections.

This is first and foremost a Candice Night project. The album begins with a number of lyrics she had written but had not been set to music until now. Blackmore was busy with a project of his own, so she wrote the music herself. With her husband unavailable, it left Night free to explore territory of her choosing. While her Blackmore’s Night roots remain firmly in place, and at times influence some of the songs, she does branch out toward the pop/rock mainstream.

Night has one of those voices that is a gift from God and it is on display here. In a group setting, that voice always shared the stage with Blackmore’s guitar play but now it occupies the center position without any constraints.

Night has always been an excellent lyricist too. Her visions, sometimes mystical and surreal, are presented as her ethereal vocals bring them to life.

The music travels in a number of directions – from country, to contemporary pop, to rock and roll. There is the catchy melody of the pop-oriented “Gone Gone Gone,” the electronically-driven dance track “Dangerous Smile,” the gentleness of “Wind Is Calling (Hush the Wind),” and the introspective “Alone with Fate,” and “In Time.” My only complaint is the constant use of keyboards, which make the strings of “Alone with Fate” a welcome relief.

Candice Night has made it quite clear that Blackmore’s Night will remain her priority. Still, it’s good to see her take a chance and stretch out a bit. Reflections is a nice look into her creative spirit and soul. It should please her old fans and gain her some new ones as well.

Article first published as Music Review: Blackmore’s Night – A Knight In York on Blogcritics.


A Night In York by Blackmore’s Night

December 21, 2012

Ritchie Blackmore is celebrating his 15th year as a part of Blackmore’s Night, which is longer than he fronted Rainbow and approaching the length of time he spent as the lead guitarist of Deep Purple.

Blackmore’s Night was formed during 1997 by Blackmore and vocalist/girlfriend (now wife) Candice Night. They developed a unique and creative sound by fusing Blackmore’s hard rock background with traditional renaissance music. While they have always been more popular in Europe and Japan than the United States, through constant touring and recording, they have steadily built a fan base in the USA.

They performed at the York Opera House, September 30, 2011, and the result of that concert has now been released as a CD (and DVD). In addition to guitarist/mandolin player Blackmore and vocalist/woodwind player Night, they are supported by keyboardist David Baranowski, bassist/rhythm guitarist Mike Clemente, violinist Gypsy Rose, drummer Squire Malcolm of Lumley, and bagpipe player Minstrel Albert.

It is a different type of concert than their first two DVD/CD live releases, Paris Moon and Castles and Dreams. Ten of the 14 tracks are from their last two albums, 2008’s Secret Voyage and 2010’s Autumn Sky, so there is little duplication of material and is a good complimentary disc. The only negative is that unlike the first two live releases, this one does not present the full concert as it has been edited down to 14 tracks and about 80 minutes worth of music (from a show that had over 20 tracks and was over two hours long). Still, what is here is a fine update on their sound and career.

They rock a little more in places than in the past, which is due in part to their last release, Autumn Sky, which had a harder edge than their previous material. While they remain in touch with their renaissance roots, Blackmore’s guitar is more dominating on a number of tracks and some of the solos are a little longer than in the past. When Blackmore switches to the mandolin, it is a somewhat different story as it melds in with their older fusion of rock with renaissance music. His mandolin work is superb and presents a differerent side of his virtuosity as it is precise and the clarity of each note is emphasized. Night’s voice remains one of the better instruments on today’s music scene.

The first few tracks cover a lot of territory. The Gregorian chant opening of “Locked Within the Crystal Ball” leads to some frenetic play by Blackmore with Night’s vocal floating over the top. “Gilded Cage” is gentle with Night’s voice the center of attention. “The Circle” is a show piece for an extended Blackmore solo. “Journeyman” covers the middle ground and is representative as to what their band is all about.

An extended and building “Fires at Midnight,” the joyous “Toast to Tomorrow,” and the soothing and understated “Barbara Allen” are the heart of the CD and find the band and audience in their comfort zone.

Many times they add a well-known cover song to their repertoire. In the past they have included such songs as Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and The Kinks’ “Celluloid Heroes.” I may not have ended the CD with the Bee Gees’ “First of May” but as a stand-alone track it is a brilliant cover.

A Knight in York brings the career of Blackmore’s Night up to date. It should appeal to their many fans and serve as a jumping off place for new admirers.

Article first published as Music Review: Blackmore’s Night – A Knight In York on Blogcritics.