Review by Paul H Birch
There’s less middle-of-the-road faux-minstrel with Stevie Nicks-whimsy to Blackmore’s Night these days, thus ‘The Ashgrove’, ‘The Last Leaf’ and ‘The Spinner’s Tale’ all work pleasingly enough. However, throughout Dance and the Moon there’s a tendency for the rhythm section to evoke processional pageantry or some royal court jig, the irony being it ends up like early 70s Euro disco. It’s at play on a rather melodramatic cover of Uriah Heep’s ‘Lady in Black’ that admittedly features effective woodwind and some choice skipping melodic notes of understated magic from Ritchie Blackmore near the end. That rhythmic backbeat also persists with layered keyboards one step outside Andrew Lloyd Webber camp for a cover of Rainbow’s ‘Temple of the King’ but Candice Night rises to the occasion with passionate vocal restraint, and again Blackmore brings something fresh to the table with a sprightly-plucked solo midway in.
Acoustically, we’re still waiting for Blackmore to say something using nylon strings that others haven’t done more eloquently before but he’s increasingly plugging his electric back in, and when he does, he also returns to his fuller more vibrant, lyrical tonal sound, an obvious example being on ‘Carry On… Jon’ dedicated to Jon Lord. Basically just a slow blues waltz instrumental, Blackmore’s old bag of tricks come into play for all the right reasons and in ways unexpected as if a private musical conversation was being overheard, adding to the emotional depth he achieves with the piece.
‘Somewhere over the Sea’ could be a Eurovision Song entry with epic aspirations then when its counterpoint ‘Somewhere the Moon’ kicks in you really begin to take notice as electronica beats and Night’s distantly echoed voice come on like some cool Ibiza trance vibe before Blackmore’s six string lets rip with some inspired notes, turns of phrase and eloquent statements. They then pull back for a more upbeat disco-friendly variation on the previous number but it works and Blackmore’s guitar pours molten gold out of the speakers amidst some classic Rainbow power chords, rundowns, twists and turns, as he pulls, pinches and teases out unexpected grace notes without arrogance but lyrical emotion; caressing the thing instead of smashing it to smithereens! That said; if someone remixes a full Ibiza trance version it could be a hit.
Blackmore’s Night has taught the guitarist to be part of a band rather a showman within one. But when he shines, Ritchie Blackmore still has something to say, and it’s something more profound than we tend to remember him being capable of, just not as loud as it used to be.
7.5 out of 10
- I Think It’s Going to Rain Today
- The Last Leaf
- Lady in Black
- Minstrels in the Hall
- Temple of the King
- Dancer and the Moon
- The Ashgrove
- Somewhere Over the Sea (The Moon is Shining)
- Somewhere the Moon is Shining (Over the Sea)
- The Spinner’s Tale
- Carry on… Jon