Despite having made his name with the frantic Cardiacs, William D Drake’s solo work shows considerable delicacy and craft. With more than a touch of folk tradition lurking beneath these compositions, Revere Reach builds up a strong and personal sense of place around the semi-real location named in the title. On Onomatopoeia.
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After leaving cult punk band Cardiacs in 1990, the playful and anarchic spirit that they became known for continued to be a persistent aesthetic in William D Drake’s subsequent solo work. On Drake’s 5th solo album, ‘Revere Reach’, however, the Cardiacs’ abrasive elements are eschewed in favour of more folk melodies, with the progressive rock influences that were previously evident even more so here. For those of us less inclined to extol the virtues of extravagant instrumental whimsies though, it’s a bit of a drag.
Drake’s a virtuoso when it comes to his piano playing skills, and a propensity for melody remains intact, but by being less frenetic he falls short of living up to the raw, energetic brilliance of the Cardiacs. But while it might fail to keep the interest of some Cardiacs fans, it’ll no doubt win Drake new admirers. By using a typically diverse assortment of instruments – this time including clarinet, hurdy gurdy, harmonium, mellotron, whirly tube, toy piano and his trademark ‘television organ’ – Drake paints a very English picture which is charming and irritating in equal turns.
Drake’s rugged falsetto adds character to the songs but it’s the addition of Andrea Parker’s soft vocals that make it a more bearable. Dramatic and at times intense - in true prog-rock style, it’s a little bit wanky and effusive, but it has its moments, particularly when things sound more stripped back: the nostalgic ‘Castaway’ and the title track’s pretty, languid melodies prevail, for example, but ‘Revere Reach’ is an acquired taste.
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- Revere Reach by William D Drake
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