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Legend: Spirit

Steve Paine is the leader of the band Legend. And when you chose a name like that it tends to set your band up for high expectations. Well, on Spirit, this band more than lives up to the name and those expectations. One of the best reasons is their lead vocalist Beck Sian. Sian is Kate Bush's second cousin, and the resemblance in vocal talent is astonishing. Sian is from Melbourne, Australia, and she provides the kind of inspired vocals we fans associate with her second cousin.

The rest of the band includes: Steve Pain on keyboards and bass; Paul Thomson, on electric and acoustic guitars; and John Macklin on drums. Chantelle Smith, Rebecca Robson, and Gareth Jones make up the powerful chorus which adds such powerful cinematic dimension to the soundscape. Taliesin Paine provides additional guitar on "A Tangled Skein".

Spirit is the follow up album to Legend's 2011 release Cardinal Points, and the band's fifth studio album. On Spirit, Legend has recorded five powerful epic long tracks. Each of them full of cinematic music and vocals.

"Leap of Faith" opens with the powerful chorus described above, solid drums, bass, electric lead guitar, dynamic keys and of course Beck Sian's excellent voice. Sian sings, "Stood on the edge of the world with creation laid bare. Light of the moon in my eyes and the wind in my hair". Epic and cinematic. You can almost see the scene from a film with the powerful soundscape being created around Sian. Powerful and with the Kate Bush like sensitivity of Sian's voice you know you've made the right choice purchasing this disc. At over 11 minutes there is plenty to enjoy here. Best song on the album. Almost as good as Xandria's opener to Neverworld's End.

"Wood for the Trees" opens with excellent synthesizers and Hammond like keys. Sian steals the show again with that Kate Bush – like vocal. "Time and tide it waits for nobody. Only you can foresee your destiny". The music is cinematic, and Sian's vocals make this album and track even more extraordinary. This nearly 7 minute keyboard and lead guitar opus is another strong album highlight. It even has that push and pull rhythm that reminds me of Kate Bush's "Sat in Your Lap"…only with heavier guitars.

At nearly 181/2 minutes, "A Tangled Skein" is the epic long track on the album. It opens with cool synthesizers and keyboards. Sian's vocals are deeper and darker, "One lose thread. My whole world unravels. Warp twists weft. And all is tatters. Tug on that thread and it all comes apart". On the opening half of this track Sian's vocals almost draw a powerful comparison to classic Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane. The track is a long journey full of excellent keyboard and guitar work. The drums and bass build a dark wall of thunder. The choruses return to amp the cinematic presence of the song. Sian's vocals moderate between the Kate Bush highs and those deep dark lows perfectly. This track is full of dark soundscapes and mystery. The keyboards are otherworldly. Sian's otherworldly closing vocals will absolutely blow you away.

"Crossing of the Ways" opens slowly with dark cinematic presence and excellent keyboards and synths along with deep bass. The mystery continues to brew deep as this album presents another cool over ten minute journey of sound. Sian's Kate Bush soft female vocals return full of power. This is her vocal showcase track set in front of those powerful keys.

"State of Grace" opens with wonderful piano keys as the melody takes a decidedly more uplifting direction. Then Sian's voice returns with the chorus supporting, "I have learned to bend. I have walked through the fire. To attain my desire. To my dreams I aspire. In a state of grace. I have faced all the tests. I may stand with the best. Seen my will manifest. In a state of grace". Powerful lyrics delivered with unwavering emotion and commitment. The cinematic, epic soundtrack that supports her must be experienced.

This album was a wonderful surprise to find on CDBaby.com. I was so happy Steve Paine was willing to send me a promo. This would have made some of my best albums of 2013 lists. It is an excellent introduction to Paine and Sian's work as well as this fine band. I am a fan and will search out the next album.

Track Listing:

1. Leap Of Faith
2. Wood for the Trees
3. A Tangled Skein
4. Crossing of the Ways
5. State Of Grace

Added: February 9th 2014
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Score:
Related Link: http://www.stevepaine.org/
Hits: 2008
Language: english

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Legend: Spirit
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-02-09 08:32:59
My Score:

The Legend reawakening that was the 2011 album Cardinal Points found this UK Progressive act finally begin to gain some of the acclaim their always excellent, always evolving music deserved. A couple of years down the line and the same is once again true - even if much has again changed for the band. An equally impressive album being delivered by a decidedly different line-up. Gone are Dave Foster, Dan Nelson and Kerry Parker, with their places now filled by the more than able Paul Thomson on guitar, who returns to the band after a time away and vocalist Beck Sian; drummer John Macklin and keyboard playing bassist Steve Paine still holding the Legend rudder. Such an upheaval could have led to quite an uneven offering from any band, however I'm pleased to say that for Legend it proves to be a non-issue.

What has changed though is the finished product, for while Spirit still sounds connected to Cardinal Points in numerous ways, it also is completely different. Gone, mostly, are the Folky overtones which Legend have been known for, with a sharper more aggressive attack in its place. However a medieval feel remains in evidence, even if it is now more threatening and less carefree than before. Sian too brings a new aspect to things, her range and power shaping much of what Spirit offers, a stunning lower register adding a thundering wallop, while her even more captivating top-end reveals a striking resemblance to her second cousin Kate Bush. She doesn't quite match the performances of her relation, but really she's that close that making an issue of it would be churlish. Let's just say that this band's knack of being fronted by remarkably talented ladies continues.

To call anything on Spirit, an album which has a central theme of Western mysticism and spirituality running through it, "Metal" would give the wrong impression, however there's no denying that the five songs presented here come with a mighty punch. Rather than a tendency to turn everything up to 11, or assault with distortion, it is a mixture of choral contributions, chaotic, almost crazed church organ like excursions and dense arrangements which provide the potency and attack. It is a confident mix, yet one which might actually put those looking for more meandering and obviously intricate Prog off; a feeling of "more is more" sometimes arriving through the tendency to make guitars, keys and layered voices jostle for the forefront. Dig past that however and the slow building "Crossing Of The Ways", which is possibly the most obviously "Neo" track on show, becomes an exercise in striding restraint. The positively galloping "Wood From The Trees" takes a different tack altogether, fuzzed guitars bringing a crackle of energy that most Prog eschews. It's a really strong statement but one which the introductory slap of "Leap Of Faith" takes further, layered voices and full on keyboards delivering something as dramatic as opera, without the need for stupidly soaring voices and bad acting.

The theatrical approach continues on "A Tangled Skein", where plucked acoustic guitar and harp swirls around the head, just as staccato bursts of guitar and crashes of cymbal once more rain blows down. Subtlety and exuberance combine to become a trademark of this album and one of its real strengths, closing track "State Of Grace" once more illustrating the point in fine style.

The evolution of Legend continues apace on Spirit, yet the quality maintains and on this strength where they go next should be very interesting indeed. In the meantime indulge in an album that is undoubtedly Progressive, yet which shies away from many of the Prog clichés.



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