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Very nearly stands up in its own right
on 14 April 2015
Doing acoustic or downtempo covers of big dance tunes has been 'a thing' for quite a while now, so fair play to Above & Beyond for tackling it on their own terms. So what happens when you strip away the huge trance production and look at the songs that lie underneath? Is it diamonds, or dirt? Well... sort of neither, really. The results are OK, but not brilliant.
The review profile of this CD is massively positive (36 5-star reviews and counting), so I do feel a bit bad being a dissenter, and I'm sure I'll get a few unhelpful votes as a result, but never mind.
This ends up sounding a lot like an album by Delerium, but slightly lacking in energy. Without the electrohouse beats, it can be a little bit tiring to get ballad-after-ballad-after-ballad, which begin, after a while, to sound somewhat the same. The gentle production- with nicely arranged, well-produced strings and some very polished, delicate touches- is fine, but it's the same on every track more or less, and it does just lack a tiny bit of imagination, sadly.
It is lovely to hear some actually fairly good songwriting being brought to the fore- "Satellite" remains a favourite of mine, and you can never have too much of Zoe Johnston's beautiful voice. The songs do mostly stand up in their own right, and they're *mostly* not just a collection of words from the generic trance dictionary, and while none of this was ever going to win any Ivor Novello awards, it's certainly not embarrassing. Unfortunately though, this doesn't quite end up feeling like a 'complete' album.