Friday, July 19, 2024

Downes Braide Association… Look What You Do

With the release of the Downes Braide Association‘s new album Celestial Songs also comes the third single taken from it, along with accompanying video in ‘Look What You Do’ the opening track on the album.

“It starts with a lovely minor key piano piece, written by Geoff and has a mournful, yearning guitar part. It then opens up into the major key of the song which is like the dawn after the darkness,” said singer Chris Braide of the new single.

“I started the idea in Los Angeles at the piano and just sang a phonetic kind of lyric on the mic, one take. I thought I’d go back and re-sing it with a more structured lyric, but I just loved the emotion of the (original) vocal. Plus, the lyric ‘Give me time, that’s all I want ‘cause nobody knows’ seems to mean so much to me. I couldn’t better it really. It says what I wanted to say without me even realising it. It’s quite Beatle-y, I suppose.

“The second verse has those big Abbey Road-type strings blocking out the chords. I wanted to write a ’Something’ or a ‘Let It Be’ – no small ambition then! The song returns to Geoff’s piano motive, but this time it’s major. It’s like the sun has risen and we are looking back at a life with love.”

“I am super excited about the release of our forthcoming new album,” said keyboard player Geoff Downes ahead of its release. “Chris and I worked really hard to create something that was special to both of us, and the result – Celestial Songs. We are certain that if you liked our previous albums, then you are going to love this one. Please sit back, listen and enjoy the DBA journey.”

Braide added “It took a few years to make this new DBA album, through the various trials and tribulations of life, and Geoff and I are excited to finally share it with the world. It’s tempting to say that we think it’s our best album yet, but we will let the listener decide. Hope you enjoy the journey.”

Celestial Songs is the fifth studio collaboration between keyboard player Geoff Downes and multi-award-winning songwriter Chris Braide (vocals) and it will be released on 8th September.

“As we were writing the songs for the album, they started to become thematic in emotion and feeling,” said Braide, “more classic rock than the predecessor Halcyon Hymns. The songs were about life and death, time, love, nostalgia, spirituality. Very DBA in fact.

“I know that Chris really likes the depth of chord sequences that I put together,” Downes explained. “This particular collection just really grabbed him and he got it up and running very, very quickly, so I was really pleased about that.

“There’s a lot of variety on the album, too. We were aiming to get quite a bit more dynamics into this album because there were some very quiet pastoral moments. I think it makes it a more interesting listen for people to get their heads around and enjoy. I hope people will appreciate it and get behind it, not just the songwriting and vocals but the overall instrumentation and musicianship is very high on this album.”

Co-produced by Braide and Downes, Andy Hodge plays bass, former Iona guitarist and keyboardist Dave Bainbridge is on board, and Marc Almond returns for a brief vocal appearance.

“It’s very useful having this core of musicians that are ready to enhance our music,” Downes noted. “Andy Hodge is very much an integral part of this unit. When we send him stuff to play, he has incredible feeling and creates a more interesting bass part than we could have thought of ourselves.

“Having Dave Bainbridge with us has added another dimension to the DBA sound and I’m very happy with that. Dave’s got his own stamp and that’s something that we appreciate having on board.

Previously, the track ‘Keep On Moving‘ was released as a single – An uplifting track that picks up on the themes of DBA‘s previous album, Halcyon Hymns, as songwriter and vocalist Chris Braide explained: “It’s a nostalgic song in that it’s looking back at a kind of formative period in time, a love letter to the past, really. There’s a reference to Prefab Sprout‘s ‘Cars And Girls’ which is one of my favourite songs”.

The mood for ‘Keep On Moving‘ is set by Francis Dunnery’s sensitive guitar work before multi-instrumentalist Dave Bainbridge (guitarist for the remainder of the album) shows his prowess on keyboards.

“The track has a great guitar riff,” remarked Braide, “and an arpeggio guitar picking out the riff, played by Francis. It gives it that kind of shimmery, summery feeling and the keyboard solo is wonderful. Dave Bainbridge played that solo and, I think, it’s one of the finest moments on the album.”

While ‘Keep On Moving’ forms a bridge of continuity to DBA‘s previous output, Celestial Songs is said to include a lot of variety and, generally, leans more towards classic rock.

“We wanted to deliver a wider variety of aural dimensions on this album.  Diversity makes for a more interesting listen,” said keyboardist Geoff Downes.   We placed a strong emphasis on our instrumentation and the level of musicianship is exceptional.  I really hope that comes across on the album.  This track has a light, pastoral feel to it which is contrast to some of the other, bolder moments on the album.  It’s important to recognise when quietness, simplicity and a lighter touch are most appropriate.  Those small moments can be just as powerful as full-on, orchestral passages.”

“Marc Almond makes a cameo appearance on ‘The Darker Side Of Fame’ and Marc and Chris’s voices blend really well. It tells a story, a theme that a lot of people, and a lot of musicians, can relate to – certainly musicians that have had any kind of success. The lyric is very poignant, whilst you have all the glory, the accolades and the adulation, it can go away and you’re left with nothing. It reflects life in general, I think, as people go through all kinds of ups and downs throughout their careers and throughout their lives.”

Album closing track ‘Beyond The Stars’ cements DBA’s prog credentials as Chris Braide explained. What happens to love when we die? ‘Beyond The Stars’ was a tune that began in 2015 and really shaped the way the artwork was to develop. Something bigger than us, something astral and heavenly, it grew from a 3-minute ditty to an 11-minute epic.

“That’s what the song ‘Beyond The Stars’ is really asking. Celestial Songs was a title we came up with in 2020 and Roger (Dean) made it manifest in his wonderful sleeve painting. A beautiful, heavenly, rainbow sky full of stars.

DBA’s music has always been about the big questions, the beauty of love and the tragedy of loss, but always with hope, I suppose. Celestial Songs is the latest chapter in that series. I hope people enjoy listening to the album as much as we enjoyed writing it and making it.

Celestial Songs can be ordered on CD, as 2 LP version, and as a Box set version. The album features the tracks: ‘Look What You Do’, ‘Clear Light’, ‘Keep On Moving’, ‘Darker Side Of Fame’, ‘Hey Kid’, ‘Will To Power’, ‘Heart Shaped Hole’, ‘Dear Petra’, ‘On The Run’, ‘Goodbye To You (Sister Shame)’ and ‘Beyond The Stars’, with all tracks written by Chris Braide and Geoff Downes except ‘Keep On Moving’ (Chris Braide/Francis Dunnery/ Geoff Downes) and ‘Goodbye To You (Sister Shame)’ (Chris Braide/Andy Partridge/Geoff Downes).

‘Clear Light’ was the first single from the album and you can also check out the video for that and new single ‘Keep On Moving‘ here at RAMzine.

Paul H Birch
Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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