Review – Storm Deva – s/t – by John Wenlock-Smith

Trawling the prog-rock related sites is always an interesting experience for me as I am friends with many of my fellow reviewers and their thoughts, opinions and recommendations are always worth taking note of. One such trawl led me to the band Storm Deva and their self-titled debut album as it was garnering some very positive comments indeed.

I got in touch through bandcamp and offered to write a review of the album as I liked what I had heard. Storm Deva replied in the affirmative and wheels were put in motion with a full download and a physical CD being sent to me. I was very grateful for this and for the kindness offered to me by the band. The album arrived mid-week and I sat down to really have a good listen at my leisure. Armed with the lyrics and the biography of the band, I was all set.

The album opens with Carpe Diem which has a fabulous guitar riff and strong keyboard textures, the riff is the chugging sort that propels the song along. Carolynn Eden’s vocals are a thing of real beauty and class, very operatic at times but with a noticeable hint of Kate Bush, amongst others. The dynamics between vocals, guitar and piano are exceptionally good, at times the guitar following the piano, interweaving and dancing all around the melodies. A fine, if short, guitar solo adds further dynamics to what is a very strong opening track indeed, a really great song and a fine opening statement of intent. Alchemy is next and this one has a very impressive video:

The track has a very nautical theme and good sound effects providing real atmosphere, as does the fine cello of Hannah Reeves that adds great colour to the piece. It is an excellent song with some fine acoustic guitar from Stuart Clark who captures the essence of the song wonderfully. I recommend that you watch the video for maximum impact. Title track Storm Deva is hinged on a strong bass line that is doubled with guitar, which then switches to some fluid arpeggio lines. I like the crunch of this track, it is so well delivered, powerful and yet well constrained and contains a fine fluid guitar solo alongside Carollyn’s excellent piano. Another well executed and delivered song with a theme of overcoming adversity (one that is repeated several times on this fine release) and hope.

Free opens with ambient birdsong sounds, the song is about a journey to wholeness, contentment and, ultimately, to freedom from the past and any hold it has on one’s current happiness. We are treated to more excellent vocals from Carolynn on this powerful track. Come Back To Me begins with a descending piano motif and solo vocal from Carolynn before the band all join in. The song has a fine acoustic guitar solo from Stuart, the song calling for a lovers return. A rather gentle, but no less powerful, song of lament. The Garden Of Wisdom has a longer running time giving opportunity for some extended parts to emerge. This is a really great track and the parts are both interesting and cohesive. There especially fine dynamics from the piano leading to an excellent guitar part from Stuart, who plays a blinder on the whole album, he is a player of both taste and brevity, as a second solo later in this track shows fully. This song has an epic feel and a very good build in its intensity, making it my favourite track thus far, it is about finding personal freedom through overcoming situations.

The Dance is a celebration of life, especially the new life that occurs in the spring time. There are references to the power of the sun and of connection, it’s a song calling for support to being stopped from falling. Believing is the album’s penultimate track and is a fairly gentle song about seeing things afresh with new eyes. It is a very hopeful track with another lovely cello part from Hannah Reeves that adds depth to this fine piece of music, another winner here. The final track is the album’s other epic, the almost eleven minute long Journey, which is a strong finishing track with more sound effects of nature to start before it both gains intensity and momentum, fairly charging along in a very spirited manner, some very fine guitar fills and exciting piano parts following, The song is about a journey into self-realisation and fulfilment, it is quite an emotionally charged and exhilarating ride too with some strong ensemble playing, a fiery guitar and a great rhythm section that certainly adds strength to this great track. Again, another excellent and succinct solo from Stuart leads us to the final closing sections of this song where the momentum and drive is revived to good effect. Strong orchestral elements adorn this track, in fact the entire album is tinged by classical chamber music, albeit with a rock edge. The album ends with the sound of the sea and surf and then the journey is complete on what has been a really fine song and album.

I must also point out the sheer beauty of the album’s artwork, possibly the best I’ve seen, apart from Roger Dean, it is simply sumptuous and very satisfying on the eye and shows Storm Deva to be a very accomplished and talented new group. In addition, they have great taste and style, the bookmark that came with the album is a lovely addition.

This is a really good and fine album, I really liked it and think that others will too. It will especially appeal to Big Big Train Passengers as various BBT alumni are thanked for their input and support.

Released 1st December, 2023.

Order from bandcamp here:

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