Dancer and the Moon
Jingle Jangle and Silver Shadows
I have to admit that even though I have reviewed a number of Blackmore’s Night albums, I have yet to strategically categorize their music. I once dubbed it Renaissance Rock, but they cross several genres including art rock, progressive rock and folk rock. After I heard their latest offering Dancer and the Moon I thought maybe “gypsy rock” might be added to the mix. Their music is distinctive with folk singer Candice Night powering through the vocals and Ritchie Blackmore leading and adding his exciting brand of electric guitar to every cut. I have to admit I bought their first album Shadow of the Moon back in 1997 on a whim, but I have never regretted the purchase and I have enjoy every release from this uniquely talented band. A lot of remarkable musicians have come and gone over the years, but recognition is overdue for David Baranoski on keyboards, Mike Clemente on bass, Claire Smith on fiddle, Kelly Morris on French horn and vocals and David Keith on percussion. Blackmore’s Night albums tend to have a similar structure with vocals, covers and instrumentals, but not always.
The album opens with an upbeat rendition of I think It’s Going to Rain Today that has been covered by scores of artists. My first recollection of the folk tune is by Judy Collins back in the day. Blackmore’s Night seems to have a way with covers that makes you appreciate them just a bit more than the originals for envisioning a unique difference in presentation. They did a cover of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake (Writing on the Wall) on their Shadow of the Moon album that was amazing. Yeah, Swan Lake.
One of the three instrumentals on the recording featuring Blackmore’s incredible guitar magic is called Minstrels In The Hall. The other is labeled Galliard. His style on these represents what I called Renaissance rock that almost has a lute sounding quality. Minstrels In The Hall has a steady tempo and a plucky melody, pun intended. Galliard, another name for a 16th cavort, is a spirited French/Italian dance that was made up of five leaps and prances. Blackmore and the band make this into a lively song with a lush orchestral background. More about the third instrumental later.
Dancer and the Moon suggest that celebratory abandon and joie de vivre associated with the gypsies. You can imagine the swirling skirts and jingling tambourines as the song unfolds. You are invited around the campfire and allowed to be yourself.
“Dance the whole night through,
Nothing gets between the dancer and the moon.”
Somewhere Over The Sea (The Moon is Shining) and The Moon is Shining (Somewhere Over The Sea) are complimentary songs. The first has a moderate tempo, the second is more upbeat. Both are based on a Czech folk song. The band has been known to take folk tales from all around Europe and Russia and make them into story songs. They seem to do this very well. The Moon is Shining (Somewhere Over The Sea) is what I would call a club mix with booming percussion and very up tempo.
The last song on the recording, Carry On… Jon, is a bluesy tribute to organist Jon Lord formerly of Deep Purple and other electric supergroups of the 70’s and 80’s. Blackmore’s guitar literally weeps the tribute to the man who made the Hammond Organ a household name. Lord was the man who set the standard for other keyboardist of his era and beyond. This turned out to be a favorite on the CD and I played it many, many times. It stirred all the memories of music days gone by.
With Dancer and the Moon the band has done it again, released another successful album of genre bending music that will cater to all the fans. I never get tired of Candice Night’s wonderful, warm vocals and Ritchie Blackmore’s intrepid fretwork. How folk and hard rock can live is the same house is a miracle of the music.
Rating: Very Good+