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The Gentle Storm – The Diary | Album Review

Throw anything you ever thought about concept albums out the window! The Gentle Storm are bringing out a game changer on March 23. Here’s what we thought of ‘The Diary’.

Photo: Official Album Cover
Source: Album Artwork

How do you feel about concept albums? Do you love a good story that connects an album from track to track; or do you believe that an album should just be a collection of work, unconnected in terms of their stories? Well, however you may feel, The Gentle Storm are putting out a concept album. Nay-sayers, before you start rolling your eyes – give it a chance, will you.

The album focuses on two 17th century lovers from Holland – a sailor and his wife. When the sailor goes out to sea and leaves his wife behind, their only way to communicate is through a series of letters. These letters are the basis from which the songs on ‘The Diary‘ are formed.

The album’s first disk, entitled, ‘Gentle‘, is told from the perspective of the sailor’s wife and is deeply rooted in folk music. It’s dark as it is delicate; soothing and haunting in the same breath. The disk’s opener, ‘Endless Sea‘, affirms that with vocalist, Anneke van Giersbergen’s voice taking centre stage. While ‘Heart of Amsterdam‘ is kind of like a musical time machine (not like a DeLorean thankfully!), in that it stays true to the time The Gentle Storm want to transport their listeners to, resembling a vivid sea shanty towards its end.

The first disk on this release can only be described as good folk music. It’s good for the soul, with its dreamy harmonies and jaunty string interludes. Light, airy and melodic; this disk’s stand out track is ‘The Storm‘. It creates drama by way of frenetic pianos and divine vocal harmonies.

On the flip side, the album’s second disk, ‘Storm‘, offers up the exact same tracks, but in a more cinematic context. It’s bold and almost apocalyptic. In fact, it’s easy to see this being a film soundtrack; everything on this disk is larger than life. There are less fiddles and more cracking guitar solos, and a choir complementing Anneke’s lead vocal. It creates drama in a much more rich and extravagant way – bridging the gap between folks do hard rock like not many artists are able to do.

Heart of Amsterdam‘ gets a new, upbeat lease of life, bringing out an almost operatic quality in Anneke’s vocals. ‘The Greatest Love‘ feels like it could be a Nightwish track in places; while the slow burning ‘Cape of Storms‘ elevates things to a whole new level.

Again, this version of ‘The Storm‘ steals the show, playing with light and shade, and the contrast between angelic vocal melodies and the accompanying string / guitar combination giving the track a smidgen of danger. Perhaps this is just a great song because no matter which way The Gentle Storm treat it, it still has the capacity to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It’s otherworldly magic.

The verdict? Throw out your scepticism about concept records, and artists recording two versions of the same track, because ‘The Diary’ is a sterling example of both. It takes great talent to execute such a change in sound from one disc to another and The Gentle Storm are talented above anything else. We urge you to buy this record on March 23.

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