Friday, 27 December 2013

THE HIDDEN GARDEN

Camelias Garden come from Rome and began life in 2011 on the initiative of multi-instrumentalist and composer Valerio Smordoni. In 2013 they released a début album on the independent label Altr0ck/Fading Records, You Have A Chance, with a line up featuring Valerio Smordoni (vocals, MiniMoog, keyboards, piano, Harmonium, acoustic guitar, Tambourine, Taurus Pedal), Manolo D'Antonio (acoustic and electric guitar, classical guitar, ukulele, backing vocals and Marco Avallone (bass, percussions) plus some guests such as Francesco Favilli (drums, percussions), Carlo Enrico Macalli (flute), Andrea Bergamelli (cello), Eliseo Smordoni (bassoon) and Giovanni Vigliar (violin). Their influences range from pastoral, symphonic prog to modern folk and West Coast echoes, from Genesis and Camel to Fleet Foxes and Midlake. The artwork in some way describes the content of the album, a colourful musical watercolour dealing with the dreams and hopes of childhood.


The opener “Some Stories” is a dreamy, melancholic ballad based upon guitar and piano while violin and flute embroider delicate melodies all around the soaring vocals. It conjures up a sense of nostalgia for a lost innocence and leads to the beautiful mini suite “Dance of The Sun / The Remark / Dance of The Sun (Birth of The Light)” where dark and light colours are used to paint a strange musical tableau about the circle of life and a spiritual rebirth.


The music of the delicate, folksy “The Withered Throne” reminds me of tin men riding nameless horses through sunny deserts while the lyrics depict the end of a wondrous love story with its legacy of broken hopes and wasted flowers. The following “We All Stand In Our Broken Jars” is an instrumental piece that starts softly with a strummed acoustic guitar pattern and riches its climax with a nice finale in crescendo with vintage keyboards in the forefront.

Camelias Garden 2013

Next comes “A Safe Haven” a dreamy instrumental track for piano solo that leads to the light “Knight's Vow” that depicts the vows of an immature child who spends his time waiting for his dreams to come true by dreaming all day long. Then comes the acoustic “Clumsy Grace” that features some nice soaring harmony vocals and portrays the shy feelings of a little boy who falls in love with the immature beauty of a little girl.


The long, complex “Mellow Days” recalls Genesis and evokes cold winter days passed waiting for better times, rainbows in the sky and songs by the sea. The following “'Til The Morning Came” starts with vocals a cappella, then acoustic guitar and vocals draw flowing hopes escaping from a broken jar and a stream of growing thoughts. It leads to a reprise of the first track of the album that closes the circle. It's time to wake up... “Now boy, stop to chase the wind / Your life flows / You're hidden between the stories of someone across the stars / Some days you're fighting the evil / Some days you're begging a chance beyond the galaxies far away...”. Well, on the whole I think that this is a good album, although it didn't really strike a chord on me, but I'm sure that this band will do better in the future. Anyway, have a try and judge by yourselves...

You can listen in streaming to the complete album HERE

Camelias Garden: You Have A Chance (2013). Other opinions:
Raffaella Benvenuto-Berry: Although derivative in parts, and occasionally a tad repetitive, devoid of those sharper edges that might make it more attractive to fans of more experimental fare, its soothing, mainly acoustic nature will offer a lot of listening pleasure to those who like their melody untainted by overt mainstream pretensions. Blending nostalgia with a subtle touch of modernity, You Have a Chance is a solid first showcase for a band that shows a lot of promise for the future, and another intriguing find from the ever-reliable AltrOck team... (read the complete review HERE)
Steven Reid: Quirky though it may be, the wonderful illustration on the cover of the debut album You Have A Chance from young Rome band Camelia's Garden suggests something gentle, involved, innocent, yet oddly sinister, and so this album proves... Camelia's Garden have put together an album full of captivating songs which have both an immediacy and a long lasting appeal, leading you to both want to play it repeatedly on initial acquaintance, while still drawing you back for more once that first impression has become something more familiar... (read the complete review HERE)

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