Review by Pete Flodden – 26th April 2020
5 STAR REVIEW (5/5)
I first encountered IO Earth on their second album ‘Moments‘. From the start I was struck by their creativity, musicianship and of course their music. The key word I would also add at that stage of their journey would be potential. This potential was realised by their progression from ‘Moments’ to the ambitious double album ‘New World‘ and finally to the superb ‘Solitude‘. The only slight concern I had about this new release was would it be able to match ‘Solitude‘? An album preview put my mind at rest by a preview in early March, The snippets in themselves were enough to truly whet the appetite, as was the stated aim of songwriters Dave Cureton and Adam Gough to explore and develop melody even more than before. This sounded like it would be something special. I am writing this amid the coronavirus crisis. Why is this relevant? Well, I would say in dark times it is vital to have something to look forward to, and amid the horror of the implications of the virus, I certainly took some comfort in awaiting delivery of the treasured CD. Further pre-release issues of the songs ‘Shadows‘ and ‘Waterfall‘ followed turning my eager anticipation to out and out longing to hear the complete album.
The band members, and their manager Wendy Hagenbeek, kept us well informed with progress even showing the lengths they had gone to keeping everyone safe when signing the copies prior to delivery. Finally, it arrived. Could it live up to expectations? The answer is a resounding yes. I am not going to go into a track by track description, as one of the (many) great things about this album is that successive listens unlock previously unnoticed delights. Each track has its own dynamic, taking you on a journey, where your ears are treated to sonic landscapes filled with melody and emotion. The musicianship is top notch; the aforementioned Dave Cureton plays plenty of excellent guitar. However, although obviously a superb guitarist, rather than flashy showmanship he favours passion and evocation. Dave is ably complemented by the others with contributions of flute, violin, cello and trumpet making each song a mini masterpiece. Dave also provides vocals (busy fellow). Actual spoken lyrics are somewhat minimal, but this allows co vocalist, the delightful Rosie, the opportunity to add significantly to the aural ambience with some truly gorgeous wordless vocals. To top it all, even the production and packaging are top notch. As already stated I am not going to try to much to describe each particular track, but special mention would go to ‘Waterfall’ (a superb showcase for Rosie), the hauntingly beautiful ‘Shadows’ (you must check out the poignant video that accompanies it) and the delightful and thought provoking closer ‘The Rain’.
Reading above, I must admit, makes me look a bit like a one-dimensional fan boy. This impression is a risk I am willing to take. Indeed, it is much preferable to my most beloved’s description of me as a grumpy, cynical old man! I have been around for a while (to put it mildly) and have heard a wealth of great music. ‘Aura‘ stands very proudly when matched against most (if not all) of my most treasured musical friends. This simply is a special album. It has already been a great comfort to me during these dark times. And I know that it will continue to be. I strongly advise anyone to do themselves a huge favour and add it to their collection.