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Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke

Rockulus Maximus

deborah bonham

If you cast your mind back to 1993 and recall the interesting direction Robert Plant took with his solo album 'Fate of Nations', then you're on the right page regarding this bluesy, soulful and Cajun flavoured studio album by the sister of Led Zeppelin legendary drummer John 'Bonzo' Bonham.

Talking of Robert Plant, he throws his energies in to some harmonica on 'What It Feels' on this very album.

This album is the good lady's fourth studio album since releasing a debut solo album called 'For You And The Moon' back in 1985. 'Spirit' also tucks two bonus tracks on the end of the CD format which are French renditions of 'Fly' and 'Take Me Down'.

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To fill you in on the personnel and to satisfy your curiosity this recording consists of the trusty hands of Ian Rowley on bass, keyboardist Gerard Louis and guitarist Peter Bullick (he plays the mandolin too) along with a guest appearance from pedal steel guitar player BJ Cole and Nashville-based drummer Marco Giovino.

Official music video for 'Fly'

It may not be Heavy Metal, but 'Spirit' is classy Rock music as the single 'Fly' kicks off proceedings. Once 'Fly' has set the benchmark for what is to come, next up 'Painbirds' delivers an abundance of reflective shadows as the tone becomes darker, bordering on melancholic beneath the surface.

If you're familiar with the band Sparklehorse, then you'll recognise this as a track that appeared on their 1998 album 'Good Morning Spider' originally, and is given respect by Bonham as she tackles her rendition.

Swaying in an up tempo lyrical breeze is 'Feel So Alive' with a sense of celebration for emotion and elated to be witnessing special people that make life so good at times. 'Spirit In Me' and 'Killing Fields' carry an air of all-knowing as Bonham's vocals grace soulful and bluesy territories to a backdrop of tasteful and mature instrumentation.

The meeting of the blues and the acoustic-vibe Rock music continues to flow with 'Take Me Down' and the emotive 'I Need Love', both of which provide the sing-a-long quality and hooks are never far away.

'What It Feels' lumbers into view and settles in a swampy groove as the singer pleads with an epitome of desire by sharing "I gotta know... What it feels to be loved by you."

Well, I couldn't possibly say out loud as this is a family show. *ahem*... Where was I? Oh yes. 'Stop Now' is a lullaby and a hook-laden anthem for the lonely complete with Emily Burridge playing some tasty and subtle cello.

During 'I Won't Let You Down' Bonham wants a special person to know that she is loyal, and hopes for some good times if nothing else. Who could resist a chance of a dance with Deborah Bonham? (That's not a euphemism by the way, and it is a rhetorical question - back to the task in hand!)

The topic of love is still relevant as 'Good Times' smoulders in a shimmering bluesy horizon and 'Lay Me down' starts out mellow and clinical. This latter song builds and works well as an album closer walking to a rhythm of a strummed guitar and other instrumentation.

Bonham's voice is sincere, sweet and full of soul. I hope the good lady is proud of 'Spirit' because it is consistent from start to finish and has been a real treat to digest. I'm not entirely sure about the French renditions added as bonus tracks; they don't add or subtract anything really.

Disregarding this indifference, 'Spirit' will bring a torrent of joy and smiles to those who yearn for an album in the same vein as 'Fate of Nations', or are Robert Plant completists thanks to his contribution on 'What It Feels', or just fancy some good quality music to listen to. The 'Spirit' is evidently alive and rife with a bluesy soul if you ask me.




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