Review – Dave Brons – Not all Those Who Wander are Lost – by John Wenlock-Smith

JRR Tolkien’s masterpiece The Lord of The Rings has long been a source of inspiration for many, both in its allegorical context and for its worldview.

Written by Tolkien in 1954 and comprising three volumes, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King, all set in this Fictional world called ‘Middle Earth;, these books have been read by millions over the last near 70 years and have inspired many artists, including Led Zeppelin, who’s song Ramble On is Tolkien influenced, as are many others including Enya, Joni Mitchell and even Black Sabbath.

Well, Bradford based guitarist Dave Brons has now composed a whole album, ‘Not all Those Who Wander are Lost’, which encompasses the journey of Frodo Baggins and his friend Sam in The Lord of The Rings. Dave has completely composed and arranged this suite of instrumental pieces himself, with assistance from the likes of Dave Bainbridge, Sally Minnear, his father Ian Brons, Catherine Ashcroft and Mark Swift and this this 67-minute album is the result of that interest and devotion to the books.

Dave is clearly a huge fan of the books and he revels in the chance to make his affection known and, in this work, he can combine his deep appreciation for the books with his love of progressive music and guitar virtuosity. The music is epic, as you would expect, but there is so much more to appreciate here in this album. The booklet that accompanies the album is beautifully conceived and realised and details the story behind each piece of music, along with insights into the performances. Dave is very quick to acknowledge the people who have helped him bring his dream to life and the part they each played in this task.

Dave is a ferocious guitar player yet, despite his flawless technique, he never shreds for mere effect, rather everything is played to support the music and move the narrative along, which is admirable.

Another neat touch to the album is the use of a recurring melody line that is actually My Lagan Love (which was an inspiration for Scarborough Fair) and this adds a delicate touch to the music throughout the album. The music is a journey that begins with eternity and circles around to end with eternity too. The album is a delight for the ears and is best heard as a complete piece of music with the lights low and something suitable to drink or someone suitable to snuggle with and enjoy as the music envelops you. Which it will, if you give it time for the magical music to drip down into your mind with repeated listens. This is an album that deserves to be listened to, and appreciated, for the fabulous musical journey that it will take the listener upon. There is so much to appreciate and enjoy here, the ethereal wordless vocals of Sally Minnear and the 100 plus strong choir, who’s vocalisations add significantly to the atmosphere of the album, the Uilleann pipes of Catherine Ashcroft, the fine cello from Ian Brons and the lyrical fluid guitar From Dave himself, all wrapped up in the beautifully clear production of Dave Bainbridge (one of Dave’s oldest musical friends).

This release is really a bit of a revelation and it is not afraid to touch upon the faith of JRR Tolkien and his wartime experiences and how they affected him. I especially enjoyed the Celtic feel of some of these pieces and the Uillean pipes that add great atmospherics to the overall sound. This is an album that is to be both treasured and revisited frequently, as you let the music take you to a special peaceful place. I highly recommend this fine album to all. 

This album has a card from Dave that says ‘Adventures in music for Tolkien Fans, may it be a light to you in dark places when all other lights go out.‘ These personal touches from Dave really add value to what is an excellent package and one that has obviously been a labour of love for him as it revels in the value and worth that these books have bought him over the years. The music is epic, cinematic and expansive in sound and depth it really is an uplifting and positive listening journey and one most progressive music fans would surely enjoy.

Dave has an earlier album out called ‘Based on A True Story’ that is, again, instrumental but, although without a theme, it has extraordinarily strong musical statements and is a valid companion to ‘Not all Those Who Wander are Lost’. Dave is an independent musician and, like all non-major label artists, would benefit from your support for his music and art and you can embrace and enjoy the journey for yourself here.   

Released January 6th, 2020

Order from bandcamp here:

▶︎ Not all Those Who Wander are Lost | Dave Brons (bandcamp.com)

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