Bardic Depths, The - What We Really Like In Stories

Kev Rowland

The Bardic Depths are back with their third album under that name, although given that Brad Birzer is still providing lyrics and the band is led by singer/bassist/keyboard player Dave Bandana this is in many ways a continuation of Birzer Bandana, who released two albums before changing from the caterpillar into a wonderfully beautiful butterfly. I find it interesting that the artwork is by Kevin Thompson who has previously painted for Big Big Train, as like them they have changed into something far more polished and professional than when they started out. As with the excellent ‘Promises of Hope’ from 2022, we are down to a core quartet with Dave again joined by Peter Jones (Camel/Tiger Moth Tales/ Red Bazar), Gareth Cole (Paul Menel/ Fractal Mirror) and Tim Gehrt (The Streets/ Steve Walsh) while the production is again by Robin Armstrong (Cosmograf).

Although this is not a concept album as such, it can be argued it is a thematic one in that it has a continuous theme of authors and their stories, with each song dedicated to writers across the years including Alan Moore, Willa Carther, Walter Miller, Lewis and Tolkien, and Robert Rankin. With four singers we get lush harmonies, while Peter adds the wonderful clarinet and alto saxophone we have become used to from his other bands, providing rich nuances. On this release all keyboards are by Dave, which is quite a change from the last release where there were three others, yet somehow even though the band has shrunk into itself with no guests, the music has more depth, breadth and presence. The result is progressive rock music which at times is almost pastoral, linking them even more closely to the Big Big Train of modern years, with vocals and melodies which make the listener smile. This is not difficult to listen to, and at times feels almost like a comfort blanket as it wraps itself around our senses and provides warmth and pleasure in equal measure. It is a thoughtful album, both in lyrics and the way it presents itself, mature and without rushing headlong. There is no doubt this is the finest album to date and well worth investigating.

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