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Accolade

Legends (Vinyl)

Review by Gary Hill

The easiest comparison here is to Renaissance. Surely the combination of classical and folk inspired progressive rock with the vocals of Stefanie Reneé beg those comparisons. There are sections of this that could easily pass for that band. Still, in some ways this more tied to old worlde sounds even than that outfit are. Additionally, there are sections here that make me think of other progressive rock groups like Yes. Whatever you call it, though, this is great stuff. It’s sure to appeal to fans of old worlde music, but also to progressive rock fans. In addition to Renee (who also plays tambourine, recorder and zills), Accolade is Aaron Goldstein (guitars, keyboards, organ and mandolin) and Cade Burkhammer (drums and percussion). Sean Henry guests on keyboards.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Side A
Gelfling Song
This comes in gradually with a sound that combines classical elements and more proggy ones. With multiple layers of vocals and melody dancing over a percussion backdrop this makes me think of a cross between Renaissance and Yes. It’s a fairly short introductory piece with no lyrics.
Elf King
Also arriving gradually, this has a real chamber music meets progressive rock elements. The female vocals again beg comparisons to Renaissance and this definitely has that same folky, organic progressive rock sound. There is both a soaring and a rather dream-like element here.
Hymn to the Moon Goddess
As this starts, it feels quite delicate. That same dreamy atmosphere is present on this one. It’s got a lot of classical music in the mix.
The Journey
Although the first section of this is set in a real classical meets old worlde and folk sound, it turns out to one of the most modern rock sounds of the set mid-track. It’s electrified and powerful. It’s a great way to lend some variety. At almost twelve minutes in length, this piece is epic in both size and scope. It works through several changes alternating between the more folk-oriented sections and the more rocking ones. It’s quite a great piece of music, really one of the highlights here.
Side B
The Lady of Shalott
This piece really draws us back to the 1970s in that, at almost 21 minutes long, it takes up the whole side of the album. It starts quite intricate with a mellower motif that serves as the backdrop for the vocals. As it continues it has a definite world music, Renaissance Faire kind of vibe. The soaring vocals are pretty stunning. The number continues developing from there. After this section works through, the piece shifts gear with piano really stealing the show for a time. Then it drops way down and a new acoustic guitar driven motif enters. It works forward from there feeling very much like old time music. Then it gets into more folk rock oriented territory as it moves out of that. There is a powerhouse segue section that feels a lot like Yes. From there it drops to a classical styled piece that builds out in that kind of fashion. Vocals come over the top and the piece just keeps evolving. Eventually more hard rocking sounds take over for a little while. Then it drops back to more Renaissance like stuff (both the band and the time period). It continues to grow and change. It remains in the fairly mellow territory, but there is plenty of range within that scope. There are also some particularly effective melodic passages.
 
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