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Dare - 2016 Sacred Ground

ALBUM: Sacred Ground
LABEL: Legend Records
YEAR: 2016


LINEUP: Darren Wharton - vocals, keyboards * Vinny Burns - guitar * Kevin Whitehead - drums * Nigel Clutterbuck - bass

TRACK LISTING: 01 Home * 02 I'll Hear You Pray * 03 Strength * 04 Every Time We Say Goodbye * 05 Days Of Summer * 06 On My Own * 07 Until * 08 All Our Brass Was Gold * 09 You Carried Me * 10 Like The First Time * 11 Along The Heather



Without doubt, Dare have been a favourite of GDM readers for many years. Yes, during that time, I have been critical of Darren Wharton's approach with the band, but underlying all this has been their legacy from the 1988 'Out Of The Silence' era; still a landmark album for British melodic rock all these decades later. That album is still the glue which holds this band in play, and every album they release will be compared to it by default. That might seem like a mill-stone around Wharton's neck, but it is what it is. The return of guitarist Vinny Burns has excited many, and his return is long overdue. OK, let's square away a few things before we get started. Firstly, the return of Burns does not mean that Dare return to the sound of 'Blood From Stone'. In fact, many will be happy this lines up nicely to 'Out Of The Silence' material wise, but without the big Mike Shipley/Larry Klein production. Secondly, we haven't quite escaped the sound which Darren delivered during the 2000's. It's just that we have some razor sharp guitar added, which makes these songs far tastier.

The Songs
'Sacred Ground' is full of melodies that will swim in your head. That much is true. Wharton's vocal is well suited to Dare; I think we all know that by now. The Celtic flavour is omni-present throughout, right from the opening 'Home' to the finale 'Along The Heather'. 'I'll Hear You Pray' combines acoustic and electric guitars to good effect, with a soft synth backdrop and ethereal vocals.. but it gradually builds up a 'rock' presence soon enough. Despite the song-title, 'Strength' is quite a gentle arrangement, that fires up on the chorus and solo sections. 'Every Time We Say Goodbye' is the album' truest ballad, but for mine, the acoustic rocker 'On My Own' is the pick of the bunch. Again, the combination of acoustic and electric guitars make this a winner. 'Until' is a traditional Celtic performance, but it's not lacking for anything. The pipes in the background give it an Irish feel, but Burn's guitar work ensure this does not drift off on the aether. 'You Carried Me' is possibly the song which sounds closest to the 'Out Of The Silence' material, while 'Like The First Time' is another solid tune which I found myself gravitating to more often than not.

In Summary
'Sacred Ground' is a stirring release, and I'm very happy to see Dare return to something close to 'Out Of The Silence', which obviously has been far too long in the waiting room department. I'm guessing that GDM listeners will take to this CD readily. Despite all of the albums released on MTM and Legend Music during the 2000's, those could be considered rather lightweight when compared to 'Sacred Ground'. A pleasant return, and one which will drive the Import Charts up around the various online Internet Retailers. That much I'm sure.

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#1 | Nick C on July 18 2016 13:28:39
Thanks for the review, I've been umming and ahhhing about this. Looks like I'll be picking it up at some point then.

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