Album of the Year 2017 – Number 6

Welcome to day 25 of my ‘Album of the Year 2017 top 30 countdown’.

It is at this point, quite late in the day, that I realise that there is a key component to the albums and the music that fills the highest spots in this year’s list. And that, dear readers, is emotional depth. I am and always will be a sucker for a savage riff, a lightning fast solo or a blast-beat. But equally, I will always succumb if the music has something about it that moves me. And today’s pick is the perfect example of what I’m talking about.

As always, links can be found below for all of my previous posts in this year’s series, along with a couple of ‘honourable mentions’ posts and the entire series from 2012-2016.

And on that note, let’s keep things moving and reveal who has taken my no.6 slot…

Number 6

DanCav Monochrome sml

Daniel Cavanagh
Monochrome
Kscope

Monochrome’…is very much an original album, penned by Daniel Cavanagh alone. In addition to the entirety of the song writing, Cavanagh also performed the majority of the music, albeit calling on the services of a couple of notable names along the way to add their own touch of class to the compositions. So into the mix come the angelic vocals of Anneke van Giersbergen and violinist Anna Phoebe…

Daniel Cavanagh’s descriptions of his music are beautiful and poetic. So it will come as literally no surprise to learn that the music itself which spans seven tracks and 48 minutes is equally as beautiful, if not more so. And importantly, what makes ‘Monochrome’ so fascinating to listen to, is that it is such an intensely personal listening experience. This is Daniel Cavanagh bearing himself to the world in musical form, and the result is quite magical, not to mention raw, honest and superbly elegant.

‘The Exorcist’ is, as I sit here now, easily the equal to all the material on ‘Weather Systems’, an album I gave a truly-deserved and guilt-free ten out of ten score.

And, even though ‘Monochrome’ would be hard-pushed to be referred to as boundary-pushing, it is a genuinely and hugely rewarding listen, displaying enough diversity to the music to keep things interesting whilst injecting a few different ideas to excite those who are open to such things.

As if his exploits with Anathema weren’t enough, Daniel Cavanagh has now created a near masterpiece under his own name. ‘Monochrome’ is an album to awaken the mind and nourish the soul. The fact that it does so via the backdrop of some of the most beautifully-crafted, elegant compositions I’ve heard this year only makes the experience even more powerful, more emotive and utterly magical.”

Read the full review here.

Daniel-Cavanagh-drawn-by-Danny-Branscombe-v1-1
Credit: Danny Branscombe

I’m sitting here wondering why on Earth I only gave this record a ‘9.5/10’ when I reviewed it back in October. The more I have listened to ‘Monochrome’ (and listen to it I certainly have), the more I have fallen in love with it.

I don’t profess to have the same poetic gift as the creator of this album, so I shall content myself with describing ‘Monochrome’ as one of the most raw, honest and pure listening experiences for many a year. And, if you’d told me that Daniel Cavanagh’s latest solo release would eclipse that of his day job band Anathema, I would have been surprised. Not shocked, but I’d certainly have raised an eyebrow. But it’s true.

You can’t compare the two releases however. There are a few similarities of course – I’d be silly to claim otherwise given the central protagonist in both. However, as the man himself rightly declared on social media recently, they both have a very different vibe. Both are dark affairs but I find ‘Monochrome’ to be the more fragile and melancholy of the two. It has a rawness and honesty that cuts right to the bone and moves me every time I listen, no matter my mood.

The album opens with ‘The Exorcist’, easily one of my favourite songs of the year thanks to a devastating combination of poignant melodies and heartfelt lyrics. It is a song that speaks to me very deeply and has brought me to tears on many occasions. I really like Daniel’s vocals and the way he shifts from a quiet and tentative approach to then break off the shackles to deliver something much more powerful and spine-tingling as the song draws to a close. The haunting guitar solo that features towards the end is a masterstroke also.

‘Monochrome’ is then brought to a close by the exquisitely tranquil ‘Some Dreams Come True’. It is more of an ambient piece that reprises melodies heard elsewhere on the record but also has an atmosphere all of its own thanks to the gentle sound of waves lapping against the shore. However, it is the final 90 seconds that seals the deal for me. Out of nowhere comes the infectious and warm sound of a chuckling baby. Speaking as a father of two small children, this is one of the most overwhelming and emotional things I have ever heard, especially in the context of this record. When I hear the laughter, my heart is filled with joy and warmth whilst at the same time, I struggle to hold things together. The tears well up and I’m an emotional mess as my mind is filled with all kinds of conflicting emotions. It is such a pure sound and, in many ways, is the perfect metaphor for such a pure-sounding album.

In between the opener and closer, we are treated to further exceptionally-crafted songs, some of which are beautifully enhanced by the extraordinary talents of Anneke van Giersbergen. The music is never technical but is varied enough to hold your attention, as Daniel explores ambient, classical and post-rock soundscapes with aplomb.

I could go on and on, but instead I’ll end by saying that Daniel Cavanagh’s latest solo effort is deserving of this position in my top 30 primarily because of the way in which it makes me feel. Daniel Cavanagh has an amazing gift of being able to convey his innermost thoughts and feelings via his music, taking the listener with him on an emotional, yet enriching, journey.

If you missed either of my 2017 ‘honourable mentions’ posts, here they are should you be interested:

Album of the Year 2017 – honourable mentions Part 1
Album of the Year 2017 – honourable mentions Part 2

Previous posts in my 2017 Top 30 countdown:

Album of the Year 2017 – Number 7
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 8
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 9
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 10
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 11
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 12
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 13
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 14
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 15
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 17
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 18
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 20
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 21
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 22
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 23
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 24
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 25
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 26
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 30

And from previous years:

Album of the Year 2016
Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

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