Revered English singer-songwriter and now Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Marc Almond always had that ‘something’ to take a hold of my heart and he always will after listening to his twenty-fifth studio album, Chaos And A Dancing Star. The title of the new album was whimsically inspired by Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra and contains songs far different from the ‘retro’ 2017’s Shadows And Reflections filled with classy covers from the 60s.
Chaos And A Dancing Star was co-written and produced by Chris Braide, who ‘lured’ Almond back into the music scene after a brief hiatus when they first collaborated on 2015’s The Velvet Trail, a beautiful album separated into different Acts, filled with mythology and melancholy.
A similar mix of styles from the earlier Almond-Braide collaboration can be found in the new album along with Braide’s delicate and evocative accompaniments on the piano. Edgy and fuzzy electric guitar solos are also nicely integrated throughout the 13-track LP and a guest appearance of Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull on one special ‘alternative’ Christmas song.
Black Sunrise is an excellent choice to start off the album and it immediately sets the tone and shows Almond’s vocals in top form. The darkness of the universe / Will be everlasting and devouring / If I don't see you again shows Almond’s eternal dance with tragic loss and this one culminates in a blistering guitar solo by guitar legend, David Colquhoun.
It is only fitting that Almond should want to be a part of Hollywood Forever, a ‘Supernova Superstar’ with his life like ‘diamonds in the gutter’ and a passion for a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. His lyrical style in both songs filled with mischief and glitter.
A muted electric guitar riff welcomes Almond as he sprinkles Slow Burn Love, the album’s first single. A dancey pop gem that Almond is well known for. Dust is one of my many favourites in the album…. a song of fleeting love and evanescence ‘caught for a second in a shaft of light’, the song slowly fading away like 'precious metals turn to rust'; reminding me of the heart-wrenching Scar and The Pain Of Never in The Velvet Trail (2015).
Along the same veins of Deaths Diary in 1990’s Enchanted LP, Almond spins black comedy into his lyrics for the ‘not mischievous, but cruel’ Lord of Misrule. Forget Nero and his fiddle, Almond does it better with Ian Anderson and his playful and hedonistic melodies played on the flute.
Songs in the second half of the LP carry on the theme of fragile mortality particularly in Cherry Tree and Dreaming of Sea. And When The Stars Are Gone, you will need Chaos in your heart if you want to give birth to a dancing star’ - the threads that connect and tie all the songs together in the LP are beautifully woven with steadfast mooring ropes that have seen their share of stormy seas under blood-red skies.
Chaos And A Dancing Star shows Almond laying bare his life, dreams and memories that he hopes will never fade or be forgotten. After four decades of glorious music, a brush with death in 2014 and countless collaborations with artists throughout the world, I know that Marc Almond will live forever… long after when the crow’s eyes have turned blue.
So embrace chaos, dance and live a full life. YOLO.
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Released: 31 Jan 2020