The tenth studio album in eighteen years from the folk-rock team of Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night (and friends) follows the now familiar formula of crowdpleasing singalongs, powerful rock-influenced instrumentals, wistful ballads, and cover versions (in this case, of Mike Oldfield’s ‘Moonlight Shadow’ and Sonny and Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’).
It is a strategy which has served the team well in Germany and Austria in particular, where they now have their biggest following, while, ironically for a couple based in Long Island (although Blackmore is British-born) they seem to have eluded success in the United States.
For me, I have been following the now married couple since their first album in 1997, ‘Shadow of the Moon’, which represented the twenty-six year old Night’s first leading vocals in a project, after providing back up on the album and subsequent tour of Blackmore’s reformed Rainbow two years earlier. Blackmore at that time was fifty-two, trying a new musical path away from the hard rock he had been involved in since the early 1960s (although throughout his work with Deep Purple and Rainbow there had always been hints at a softer and perhaps more romantic side than he could indulge).
Now Night is forty-four, Blackmore is seventy, and they have two young children under six, so ‘All Our Yesterdays’ would seem to be coming from a very different place to ‘Shadow’. The opening track, the title one, though, is fairly standard for the team, Night’s vocals taking the lead into a plantive ballad which opens into ‘hey hey’ type chorus. This is followed by a couple of instrumentals, of which I liked ‘Darker Shade of Black’ and its – maybe overproduced – soaring melodies the most.
‘Long Long Time’ has some nice musical touches, while ‘Moonlight Shadow’ is a rockier version of what was a classy ballad with Oldfield’s style of guitar playing back on its release in the early eighties. I am not sure about the changing of the fade-out coda though. As for ‘I Got You Babe’, Night sings this well with the accompaniment to bells and the now ubiquitous drum machine, but the fact this was written as duet makes it fail at the last, despite attempts to muddle through.
In other tracks, 2003’s ‘Where Are We Going From Here’ is given a new, revised version (something the team have a habit of doing), and it has a pleasingly rocky feel, while the standout album track for me is ‘Will o’the Wisp’ with its pounding chorus and musical vibes. ‘The Other Side’ seems throwaway, with pipes, drums and double-tracked vocals in Mary Ford-style. ‘Queen’s Lament’ is a typical Blackmore guitar instrumental, musically beautiful and technically accomplished, but all too short.
It seems clear with the progression of this team’s work that Candice Night is taking more and more centre stage, and she has certainly vastly improved as a singer in both vocals and confidence since she started out. However, the last couple of albums have started to weaken a bit against their predecessors and the formula, for what it is worth, may now need a shake-up so as not to make work feel stale.
All Our Yesterdays
Allan Yn N Fan
Darker Shade of Black
Long Long Time
I Got You Babe
The Other Side
Where Are We Going From Here
Will o’the Wisp
Earth Wind and Sky