The Dame – Losing Sight Of What You Want
Water Tumbles Down (7:23), General Disarray (5:33), Faking It In Monaco (7:31), The Last Dance (5:40), Losing Sight Of What You Want (11:19), Thy Father’s Bidding (5:33), Conveniently Distant (18:59)Track List:
When this CD arrived in the post, I was at first a little sceptical of the promotional paraphernalia that came with it. Describing their music as a “Sexy version of progressive rock” the album artwork recalls 1920s nightclub decadence, which is mirrored in the elaborate packaging and accompanying booklet. Would this be a case of style over substance I wondered? Not a bit of it. This debut album from The Dame is contemporary, guitar-driven prog with memorable tunes, strong hooks, inventive arrangements and superb playing.
Fronting the band is the delectably-named Marian van Charante who provides the vocals and the lyrics. She has a very distinctive voice that adds a theatrical touch to the songs. The nearest comparison I can think of is one-time Propaganda singer Susanne Freytag.
Stephen de Ruijter is responsible for lead guitar and the music, and if you’ve never heard of this man before (which is highly likely as the band formed as recently as 2016) then mark him out as a guitar hero in waiting. From the ringing arpeggios of Water Tumbles Down, a touch of djent during General Disarray, the tasteful Gary Moore-style blues of Faking It In Monaco to the Steve Rothery-flavoured weeping lines of Conveniently Distant, he has all the bases covered.
The songs themselves are equally colourful. From the slow-burning opener, Water Tumbles Down, to the epic 19-minute closer Conveniently Distant, with its multiple twists and turns that builds to a monumental coda, there is plenty for prog aficionados to savour.
The other songs are equally praise-worthy, including the punchy General Disarray, the faded romanticism of Faking It In Monaco, with its opulent synth strings courtesy of keyboardist Thijs de Ruijter, and drummer Ruben Meibergen’s rhythmic gymnastics during The Last Dance.
The lengthy title song, Losing Sight Of What You Want, includes a lovely synth hook and an infectious chorus, whilst the astutely titled Thy Father’s Bidding uses melancholic piano, classical guitar and a children’s choir to deliver a potent message. Throughout, Michel Krempel’s bass lines are superbly sublime.
Special mention should also go to Chris Muller whose weighty production gives the album a live feel, especially the muscular drum sound. This certainly gets my vote for the best debut album of 2018.
Geoff Feakes: 8.5