A remarkable thirty-six years after his first release, Chris de Burgh's sixteenth album of new material shows that he remains a master of his craft. In fact, arguably the imaginative "Moonfleet and Other Stories" is one of his strongest.
Based around J. Meade Falkner's tale of eighteenth-century Devon smugglers, de Burgh's eighteen track suite sounds made to be performed in a theatre. At first I felt at a slight disadvantage having not read the book, but repeated listens heighten understanding of the basis of the story. In the true tradition of a musical, "Moonfleet" features narration and several recurring tunes. Perhaps the least memorable part is the slightly rambling orchestral overture, while gentle ballad "Go Where Your Heart Believes" and the stirring track which succeeds it, "Escape", are probably the highlights.
Released on its own, "Moonfleet" would represent good value. However, a further six tracks follow. Two - "One Life, One Love" and "Pure Joy" - are rather mundane, the former too reminiscent of "Love Of The Heart Divine" (from 1999's "Quiet Revolution"). However, the other four are much stronger, "Why Mona Lisa Smiled" featuring a particularly gorgeous melody. "People Of The World" is a typically uplifting finalé, made all the more poignant given the real-life story that inspired it, mentioned by an earlier reviewer.
It is a pity that sales of such a terrific addition to the de Burgh canon will probably be small. At this late stage in his career he is still able to write memorable melodies and is still finding intriguing settings in which to present them.