'She' Album Review by Bob McBeath (Prog Archives)
With She Clive Nolan (Pendragon, Arena etc.) returns with his most ambitious project to date. Under the name Caamora, he and Polish vocalist Agnieszka Swita present this lavish double CD production based on the novel of the same name by H Rider Haggard.
Both Nolan and Swita assume vocal characters, with Alan Reed (Pallas) and Christina Booth completing the cast. Instrumentally, an impressive array of familiar names support Clive's symphonic keyboards and orchestrations. The entire project is composed and produced by Nolan, with Threshold's Karl Groom lending a hand on the technical side.
The album takes the form of a modern opera, being lyrically intense while telling the entire story in significant detail. Anyone who has read the book or seen the classic film will have no difficulty in following the tale here. Those who have not will find all they need by way of support in the lavishly illustrated booklet which accompanies the package.
There is inevitably an Arena or perhaps Strangers on a Train (much more than say Pendragon) feel to many parts of the album. The intro to The storm for example has galloping lead guitar layered upon a wash of symphonic keys. Melodically, the album contains some of Nolan's strongest material ever, the diversity of vocal styles serving to emphasise this well. Covenant of faith is strongly reminiscent of a classic Moody Blues style, Clive delivering a vocal worthy of Justin Hayward no less.
If there is a minor flaw to the package, it is the lack of instrumental interludes. With album being spread across 2 CDs, the space was available for more in the way of keyboards and lead guitar breaks. The detailed nature of the story-telling however leaves little room for such indulgences. Listening to the album overall, I find myself reminded of rock operas such as Jesus Christ Superstar. Nolan tends to avoid the habit of Rice/Lloyd Webber to over use repeated themes though, although tracks, such as History do rework earlier melodies.
In all though this is a hugely ambitious and very enjoyable album. It serves to confirm that Clive Nolan remains highly motivated while continuing to enjoy a level of insparation others can only dream of.