Regular readers of my musical musings will know that quite often on a lengthy review I will delve into each track and attempt to describe to you, the reader, what is going on. Usually on the assumption that you may not have heard it. That is going to be impossible here. Mainly because there is just so much going on musically that I don’t feel qualified to talk about it. For this is serious music, and I don’t mean serious as in unenjoyable. I mean proper music. Grown up music if you like, but thats not to say it is not accessible because it is extrememly accessible. Wistful melodies, haunting themes and the odd ethereal vocal make this a totally unique album. As far removed from Deep Purple or Whitesnake as you could imagine but with the obvious composing fingerprint of the maestro that is Jon Lord all over it.
Split into four sections of three tracks each “Pictured Within” is mostly an instrumental album although it features a couple of Sam Brown vocals, Miller Anderson singing the title track and the wonderful Sabine Van Baaren and Christina Lux-York providing voices on the haunting ‘Crystal Spa’. Musician wise there is an array of top classical talent there to compliment Lord as well as a few old rock chums in the shape of Pete York, Colin Hodgkinson and Thys Van Leer. “Pictured Within” brings with it a great feel of love, life, death, religion, melancholia, sadness, happiness and harmless daydreaming. Images of Edwardian ladies, gentlemen poets and rolling hills that will suddenly be replaced by an image of a ghostly haunting pale figure singing wistfully at a darkened sky before you are transformed back into a grandiose ballroom and the image is of long dresses sweeping across the floor as handsome serious looking men twirl lovelorn ladies around with the elegance of that bygone age. Then the other worldly feel of the choral singing in ‘Crystal Spa’ which is the opening to the final part of the album will have you searching every depth of your inner being as you ponder religion, the afterlife and the inevitability or futility, depending on your opinion, of death. Quite appropriately the piece is subtitled ‘Beneath A Higher Heaven’.
Jon Lord wrote this album as a dedication to his, then, recently departed parents for giving him the gift of music and so it is obviously a very personal journey. The influences of many who inspired Lord are clear and his tastefully brief notes on the album cover them more adequately than I could here. The secret of Lord’s genius as a composer though is that this will eventually become as personal an album to you as it is to him. You will gather your own thoughts and reminisce as each melody comes and washes over you. Sadness, happiness, hope and fear will all be to the fore of your thoughts at some point as you listen to this. It has become my thinking album, my decision album. One of my closest friends. Of all the music I own “Pictured Within” can be described quite simply as my most beautiful album. It is one of which I will never tire and for that I will be eternally grateful.
© Martin Leedham. First published on RYM September 2011