“A love that embraces the all / where the river meets the sea”
With some albums, I don’t have much to say about their contents, and so I may get a little stumped about how to start the review. Other albums, however, are so rich and beautiful, like some grand tapestry, that I have too many words crowding my mind. The result is that I once again have trouble starting the review. The latter is the case for the sophomore album from Riversea, called “The Tide” and releasing on April 23rd. I finally decided to write what is on my heart, which is exactly what Riversea is all about: heart, mind, and soul.
The influence and importance of Riversea’s “Out of an Ancient World” in my life cannot be understated. It truly is one of my top albums ever. I even wrote a spotlight of the deep lyrical content in that album (that spotlight was actually one reason I started TPM). Naturally, I’ve been dying for a follow up album, and I have been following with great interest the crafting of this offering. Yes, it has been almost six years since the debut, but “The Tide” is worth every second of that wait time.
Riversea technically consists only Marc Atkinson on vocals and Brendan Eyre on keys. However, David Clements (bass) seems to be a part of the band in some capacity now. The album includes a huge range of guest musicians: Tony Patterson (keys and flute), Alex Cromarty (drums), Lee Abraham (guitar), Robin Armstrong (guitar), Simon Godfrey (guitar), Paul Cusick (guitar), Peter Aves (guitar), Martin Ledger (guitar), Olivia Sparnenn-Josh (backing vocals), Janine Atkinson (backing vocals), and Louise Dawson (backing vocals). The range and diversity of the performers is truly astounding, and it gives the album a bigger and deeper feeling than the debut.
“The Tide”, like the debut, is deeply entrenched in beautiful and powerful lyrics. While the debut dealt more with a divine idea of who we truly are as humans, this album dives into a more earthly look at the human condition. We are a truly troubled race, always spiraling towards self-destruction, and much of that comes with the name of God on our lips. This album is an uprising against that destructive way of life, and the lyrics will affect you emotionally and spiritually. I will certainly be reading the lyrics with great interest.
As a result of this dire look at the human condition, this album is quite somber and serious. The tone overall is worshipful and spiritual, begging us to consider what is being said. While the album is quite sober, it is no less soothing and relaxing to hear than the debut. It offers absolute tranquility in a way that I really haven’t heard from other artists. That is the Riversea touch.
Marc’s voice is as effective and smooth as ever. Honestly, his perfect performance of the amazing hooks and melodies on this album gives me chills just thinking about it. Combining his vocal chops with the serious nature of the lyrics, this album made me tear up no less than 3 or 4 times. Marc’s voice elicits emotion from me like few others. Between Riversea, his solo albums, and the other projects of which he has been a part, Marc’s voice has become a soothing, nostalgic presence for me.
Brendan’s keys are once again glorious and synthy. His work is like a revelation sometimes, and I absolutely love it. Guitars from all the guests are soul-piercingly emotional, as are the backing vocals, too. David’s bass is a fantastic addition to the Riversea sound, as it comes across as haunting and inventive in each and every song. In fact, certain songs really rely on his bass skills to be as deep and abstract as they really are.
“The Tide”, like I said, is a bigger album that the debut. I also find that it is “proggier”, for what that’s worth. The song structures are more diverse and abstract, and there is a good variety of elements here, from Floydian influences to pop to light electronic accents, and so on. The musical style is progressive rock through and through, but there is plenty of musical space and melodic growth, too.
While I’d love to go over every song (which I may do in a spotlight at a later time), let me go over just my favorites. First off, the title track starts the album with a glorious fade in and plenty of warmth and nostalgia. The single is “Shine”, and I love the edge to the guitars and the electronic accents. “Drowning in Vertigo” has one of the most emotional choruses and guitar solos on the album, and the way it just builds and sustains is simply striking.
The album gets even stronger in the second half. “Strange Land” might be my favorite song of the year so far. The bridge and chorus have such a tight and perfectly performed melody, and it absolutely grabs me every time. “Fall Out Warning” is a complex song, both musically and lyrically. It feels like the waves breaking on the rocky shore as the fallout of our human tendencies rears its head. “Uprising” is a subdued song that feels powerful and purposeful in its tone and lyrics, but the music is subtle and led by flute. It’s a great contrast that really accents that meaning behind the song.
“The Tide” is not just a solid album from Riversea. It is a triumph. This offering is nothing short of stellar musically in each and every track, but it also strikes deeply into my heart and mind lyrically. The spiritual and emotional content here grabs hold of my core, and leaves me thinking and even hopeful. For the love of all that is holy, please buy this album.