2008 (Toff Records/InsideOut)
Like no other Nick Barrett can translate his feelings into music. I’m not only referring to his singing and guitar playing, the entire musical framework always joins seamlessly with what he wants to express. Years ago Barrett shared his state of mind to emotionalize the whole world to pieces with the excellent “Not Of This World”, an album where he tries to process his divorce from his former partner. The here reviewed “Pure” from 2008, that is released seven years later, is at least as impressive, if not more. “Pure” handles about Barrett who wants to break free of his demons and that theme asks for a heavier bandsound. Well, that is what you get on “Pure”.
Don’t be afraid, the many melodic, lyrical aspects that always adorn Pendragon are present. You can assume this is a guarantee that goes beyond the front door. The robust music emerges in three matters. Barrett’s voice has got its moments of pleasant rawness and the same sandpaper sound can be heard in his guitar chords, however not constantly. It is not that he plays with a kind of standard distortion, his stringed friend sounds raspy, awesome wide, open, gritty and sparkling at the same time. The third bringer of power (and maybe the most important) is the, at that time, new drummer Scott Higham. With his brisk playing he is the Mike Portnoy of neo-prog. What a dam he is.
The album has only five songs, who are divided in seven tracks. Indigo starts the party and Pendragon silences everyone who ever blamed the band of fishing in their own pond. The first minutes are going as described above. Then Barrett comes with a gem of a guitar solo. Academics agree this is the band at its best. The following Eraserhead is by far the most brutal song of the album. The lyrics and the angry way of singing don’t lie. The epic Comatose lets you hear a pretty authentic Pendragon. The three tracks of this piece are atmospheric and varied. Then comes the easy song The Freak Show with a nice rhythm and Barrett who plays one of his most catchy guitar themes ever. That is a good thing since the album closes with the modest It’s Only Me. A beautiful guitar solo finally leaves you with a smile on your face and a good feeling.
Everything is right about “Pure”.
© Dick van der Heijde 2022