"Turn of the Cards" is my favorite Renaissance album, although as I listen to them all in order I am struck by how it also perhaps the most atypical example of their progressive (nee classical) rock. Taken as a whole these songs are relatively unadorned. "I Think of You" is a relatively simple piece, ending with one of those wonderful high notes by Annie Haslam followed by some nice harpsicord work by John Tout. Likewise "Black Flame" begins with the simple elegance of an acoustic guitar (a reminder that the forthcoming "Unplugged" Renaissance album is not really breaking new ground for the group).
Of the two set pieces, "Running Hard" is most decidedly in this simpler vain, which has the overall effect of better showcasing Haslam's glorious voice. The other showpiece, "Mother Russia," shows that the group was paying attention to Russian dissidents (the song is dedicated to Alexander Solzhenitsyn) as much as they were Russian classical musicians and offers an emphasis on percussion quite usual for a Renaissance song in the driving conclusion. Again, Haslam's voice soars over and above, as well as through, the rhythmic progression of the music as proves that she does not need to be singing actual words to contribute to the beauty of a song.
Perhaps it is insightful to recall that in terms of Michael Dunsford's music, "Turn of the Cards" is the album that proceeds his most ambitious project, the Scheherazade cantanta. Whatever the reason, this is the Renaissance album that best showcases the vocal talents of singer Annie Haslam.