Venus Rising are local, led by Sheena Bratt. We don’t like reviewing local bands much: do we just say they’re great because they’re local, or be honest? Usually they’re as good as they need to be, which makes it easy, but VR are a band that want to go places and this is their calling card.
We’ll get the downside over first: if they paid (and we realise money is tight) five times whatever they paid to make this, it would be 10 times better. Any complaints we had would be down to the levels; quite often the vocals seem too much at the front and the (excellent music) too far back. If that sounds harsh: we’ve got a folk-ish album from a signed band on a big label with songs that are no better than these, but it’s had more money thrown at it so sounds slicker.
That aside: the tunes are all good, and impressively ambitious. While it’s folk, Venus Rising don’t like singing about love-struck swains mooning about the meadows dreaming of flowery maidens. Take RBE, whose chorus is “In a resource based economy/Everything will be free…It just ain’t right that anyone is hungry”. Right on, brothers and sisters. (Yes, they say that, too). Rainbow Child contains the words “paradigm shift” and the line “Imagine if we all worked together/What we could achieve”. # Little Girl Blues goes: “How can they call this civilisation/When it only benefits the few”.
The songs are complex and well arranged, and the musicians all good, especially Pete Mason on lead guitar, who throws in lead breaks worthy of a stadium-filling rock band. He must be red hot live. Steve Lewis on bass also does some good work in places (drummers are the ones who always hold it together, unthanked and unappreciated, while flashy guitarists show off so Dave Lavin will be used to being ignored).
It’s an interesting and musical album, whose lyrics are at least as diverting as the songs. We particularly like Unity, a blues song with a good bass intro, sterling lead guitar and lyrics that kick off with “We’re coming home/To a consciousness that’s planetary” and go on to mention living equally, renewable energy, sustainability and no more wage slavery.
On sale now at A&A, it’s well worth double its cover price of a fiver.