RED JASPER – The Great And Secret Show

Angel Air 2014

Wiltshire’s finest are back with the action – and it’s a fine art act.

RED JASPER - The Great And Secret Show

RED JASPER –
The Great And Secret Show

Having hung in limbo for a long time, 2013 found this band rekindling their old flame. If 1997’s "Anagramary" saw RED JASPER in ashes, it’s follow-up is a brightly lit affair, and while former vocalist Davey Dodds was hardly involved in making of that album and left for good afterwards, it moved drummer David Clifford to the front who, since then, has grown into a fabulous singer and shone in Clive Nolan‘s "Alchemy" as well as other musicals. Thus, there’s a notable change in the group’s dynamics: less folky in the absence of flute, “The Great And Secret Show” – a rare feat for a prog ensemble – is filled with emotions.

They lie on the rippling, sentimental surface of “Ray Of Darkness,” and the dramatic “Bonds Beyond Reason” where Soheila Clifford’s gentle voice joins in to give a soul and a ring of reality to David’s “Father, I see through your eyes” line. But the title track that combines the welcoming call with a confession of the clown murder, all over the pull of Lloyd George’s piano and synthesizers, while the vocalsĀ and riffs turn the “I know you’ll soon be mine” prediction into a threat. So much for romantic adventure – and if “The Time Is Right” unfurls its sax-smoothed bedrock into a blooming chorus and anxious sonic splashes, “An Hour Of Time” has its dewy balladry deliberately dirtied by rough-sounding drums before being cleansed with Robin Harrison’s previously soiled guitar and bent into a glorious march.

“Living The Life” picks up the joie de vivre theme, although there’s a typical English guilt rolled into its theatrical charm which switches into a dream-chase, and living that dream might be this great and secret show each of us participates in. More so, it’s the force behind the band’s resurrection – not a misstep here.

*****

February 18, 2015

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