Sunday, May 28, 2017

BLUE NILE-Peace At Last (1996)


Peace at last indeed—that is how I often feel whenever I get to sit back on a quiet night and chill to some good, east-listening music. I went back to my past list of recommendations to redirect my attention back to the Scottish sophisti-pop group with whom I've had a bit of unfinished business: THE BLUE NILE. Having previously enjoyed the fruits of their two 80's albums— "Hats" and "A Walk Across The Rooftops"—it was time for me to finally progress forward with their music into the 90's. And what I would find really did give me peace—for forty-five minutes in the virtual digital world, at least, but I'll gladly take that short break from reality. I felt that the songs here were speaking to me personally at times, particularly the opening gem called "Happiness", where the group's lead man is in direct dialogue with Jesus Christ and wonders if he has truly found that happiness, wondering if it's even real and if it'll last forever. Happiness and peace—two intangibles that I speak of having and giving all the time and I can definitely appreciate. The song floats along as a slow, ambient/acoustic piece before the it suddenly wakes up with the soulful backing choir turning it into an epic spectacle! I only wish the song could've gone on for another couple of minutes with the choir chanting 'happiness' beneath the equally soulful and soaring vocals of THE BLUE NILE's frontman but I'm happy to have heard the marvelous four-and-a-half minutes of it all the same. When I heard the next offering, "Tomorrow Morning", I got the sense that this album's theme revolved around a sense of serenity and religious spirituality. From a musical standpoint, I love the acoustic guitar sound before the ambient rhythm sweeps in, particularly when the volume of the music picks up and the instrumentals take over for a spell. The music getting better as the song progresses—that's also a defining characteristic of the songs on this album that I took notice of when "Sentimental Man" moved from its slightly trippy funk rhythm into a lively pop affair. "Love Came Down" is one of those where it's just fun basking in the good groove of the music, taking in the lead man's soaring vocals and that oh so lovely solo guitar picking near the closing movements. "Body And Soul" is simply epic‐from the deep soul-searching going on in the lyrics about loving until the day he dies to the scintillating, cinematic orchestrals! "Family Life", a light acoustic piano ballad that evolves into an amazing violin showcase of movie soundtrack proportions, touched me in pretty much the same way that "Happiness" did, the idea of no more shouting and no more fighting striking a chord with me as it further supports the finding-peace-at-last theme. If you needed any more of a clearer indication of the spiritual overtones of this album, offerings like the haunting "Holy Love" (the Gregorian-style chant beneath the beat is quite nice) and "God Bless You Kid" (one I personally praise because of the striking production and its dizzying display of different musical textures) will remind you of exactly that. Then serving as a perfect bookend to it all is the concluding piece simply entitled "Soon". The opening church organ sets the peaceful mood on this graceful tune where the songwriter seems to long for that very same happy, peaceful moment that he asks Jesus about at the outset. I would have added an ellipsis to make the song title be read as 'Soon...' because the direction and flow of the song seems to leave you wondering just how soon it will be before love and happiness is found.....

1. Happiness
2. Tomorrow Morning
3. Sentimental Man
4. Love Came Down
5. Body And Soul
6. Holy Love
7. Family Life
8. War Is Love
9. God Bless You Kid
10. Soon

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