STYLE: Celtic RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 115967-18283 LABEL: Open Sky FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 2
Reviewed by Mike Rimmer
For the first time Iona present us with a double studio album with over 100 minutes of new music and it is absolutely stunning. If like me you've missed the Iona of the early years who mixed outstanding music with a deeper spirituality, then you'll welcome 'Another Realm'. There have been some changes so the album introduces Martin Nolan on pipes and whistles but it also seems that across the board, there's something new and invigorating about the band. It's almost as if the band have undergone a spiritual revival and it underpins everything that is here. Right from the opening cut "As It Was" with its opening refrain "Iona of my heart," there are echoes of the band's early recordings as if they have gone back to their Celtic spiritual roots and once more journeyed to the isle of Iona. Produced by Dave Bainbridge and recorded at different band members' studios in England, Ireland and the Netherlands, there is the usual huge panoramic sound we've come to associate with the band but this time it comes with a fresh warmth and richness. Not only that, the whole album is packaged up in a gatefold sleeve with the most beautiful and fully integrated cover art I've ever seen! Everything you have ever loved about the band is here - astounding, multi-layered music, the gorgeous vocals of Joanne Hogg, the pipes, whistles and violin work which adds so much character and songs that make the heart glow. From the haunting Wytze Valkema collaboration "The Fearless Ones" with its opening shofar blasts to the epic "An Atmosphere Of Miracles" and beautiful "The Ancient Wells", there isn't a single moment where this doesn't deliver. On the latter, Joanne sings, "The ancient wells will be opened again and your river will flow," and it feels like that thought sums up what has happened with 'Another Realm'. Iona have rediscovered their passion and their purpose.
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