Symphony Of Light

Renaissance

The 2014 Renaissance release Symphony Of Light is dedicated to Michael Dunford, the band's longtime guitarist and songwriter who passed away in 2012. The album marks his last appearance with Renaissance, the band he's kept alive with singer Annie Haslam. The group has weathered many storms — numerous personnel changes, Haslam's battle with breast cancer, long hiatuses and Dunford's death — yet through it all, the 11-song Symphony Of Light, previously issued in 2013 under the title Grandine il Vento, shines.

The title track begins with Haslam's high, operatic voice swirling around strings followed by arpeggio keys with that distinctive Renaissance bass and Dunford's perfectly placed lead acoustic under a slow steady beat. Rave Tesar's soft piano runs over the strings, Dunford's acoustic runs and Haslam's sweet vocal. "Grandine il Vento" is built around synths, piano and bass with Haslam floating over the top to create a pretty tune. Even at 67, the lady can still manage her five-octave range. She takes it further by conjuring enchanting lyrical imagery on "Porcelain."

Dunford's acoustic leads the spirited chorus of "Cry to the World," which features Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson on flute, jamming out to the end. Haslam duets with Asia's John Wetton on the ballad "Blood Silver Like Moonlight," informed by well-matched voices and Tesar's expressive playing. "Tonight" is a classical study that showcases Haslam amazing range, with added strings and kettle drums. The first bonus track "Immortal Beloved" boasts one of the few memorable choruses with Haslam reaching for an ever higher register above backing vocals. The second bonus track, the angelic "Renaissance Man," weaves a complex tapestry and a loving lyric from Haslam dedicated to Dunford. It proves to be a more than a suitable resolution to be sure. Taken as a whole, Symphony Of Light thrives on lush production, evocative lyrics, excellent playing and that superlative voice that could only belong to Annie Haslam.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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