Realisea – Fairly Carefree (2022)
As a Silhouette enthusiast I follow every musically related project with great interest and that has already resulted in a real gem in the form of Chain Reaktor who presented the beautiful album Homesick in 2021. Erik Laan, with the help of his sons, created this and now Brian de Graeve, the other pivot of Silhouette, presents the new Realisea album. Together with partner Marjolein, he is responsible for the compositions on the band's second album, Fairly Carefree. The debut album, Mantelpiece from 2020, brought us a kind of prog-lite with beautiful, but very sweet, vocals and showed some comparison with the lighter material of Marillion. Not yet of that quality, but that Brian is a fan of Marillion is clear. For me, Mantelpiece was a bit too light to be completely convincing, it lacked some power and a bit of rock. However, it was already clear that much more was possible given the class of the musicians who participated.
Well, what does successor Fairly Carefree bring?
Mostly the same excellent musicians, especially guitarist Rindert Bul shines with many wonderful solos. Drummer Jos Uffing is also present again, as is Christophe Rapenne on keys. Mark op ten Berg is the bassist and that is a link with Chain Reaktor. Furthermore, some guest musicians play along, and they are of a very high quality. Erik Laan plays a few keyboard parts and Ton Scherpenzeel plays a wonderful solo in Malgré Les Vagues. Son Geoffrey also plays some bass parts and Mia Kamstra on violin and Tamara van Koetsveld on clarinet also contribute to the atmosphere on this album. The album is mixed and mastered by Bart Laan, indeed Erik's son and Chain Reaktor’s excellent guitarist. So a lot of cross-pollination and that works out very well in this case.
It is clear that Realisea has become a close band and that leads to a much more mature sound and many of my reservations about Mantelpiece have disappeared. It has all become much more proggie and the fact that there are two real epics on the album makes the intentions to go this way even clearer. What has remained are the mostly somewhat romantic lyrics by Brian and Marjolein, but what do you want when you go through life as husband and wife. love rules! Both have a pretty high voice and that's something you have to like. It's all spotless and the harmony vocals are to die for, but the lovely character remains a taste-sensitive thing.
The album opens with the lengthy I Could Never Learn and that is immediately my favourite of the album. A nice solo by Bul immediately provides that fine neoprog atmosphere in this classy song. Plenty of room for musical excursions and a structure to enjoy. I want more of this. And I get that too, not in all songs, but in most of them. Crackled Colorite is a bit more pointed but also wonderfully varied with nice uptempo parts and again….. yes, Rindert who lets his guitar sing. Marjolein sings in this song and her velvet voice fits well with the quieter parts but in the uptempo parts she could use a little more power and warmth.
Brian is a romantic and very committed to our planet, which is reflected in the lyrics, which are often very personal and regularly show his sensitivity.
Your lies is a smooth song but lacks some depth for me and Pretending is also a nice song but just doesn't touch me that much. With Out in the Cold the tempo picks up again but successor Sheltered Dreams is a ballad with beautiful harmony vocals and the lovely soft character is back.
Trilemma is the longest track on the album and with a length of more than fifteen minutes we can really speak of a true epic. And everything you want in a song will pass by and this is so beautiful again. As a rooted progger I have to conclude again that I like the longer songs the most on Fairly Carefree and they are really very good.
Closer Malgré Les Vagues could be heard as an advanced single for some time and, partly due to the keyboard solo by Ton Scherpenzeel (Kayak), it is a worthy end to a very good album. And that there is a Kayak-like atmosphere on this album is probably due to the fact that Brian is also a fan of this legendary Dutch band.
Then to the conclusion.
Marjolein, Brian and all fellow musicians have raised the bar again and with Fairly Carefree they have succeeded in making a very good album that will certainly appeal to many prog fans. Many positive reviews have already been received and this sympathetic band really deserves them.
Finally a remark on the very beautiful artwork by Coby van den Burgt is in place.