Storm Deva are a new band to me, and probably to a lot of you too. I saw them fairly recently when they stepped in as last minute substitutes at the annual charity bash, Prog the Forest in early December. So last minute in fact, that they had tickets for the event as spectators! There, due to the restrictions of necessity, they were down to the core duo of Carollyn Eden and Stuart Clark, with just a piano and guitar providing the musical backing for Carollyn’s thoughtful lyrics delivered in her bell-like tones. This stripped-back approach gave their sound a classical edge, which here on their debut album is given extra muscle by the backing of a full band. For all that, the power of the songs shone though during their set at The Fiddler’s Elbow and I was quite captivated, to the extent that this review was promised.
The full sound backing the songs comes as a surprise, but the subtleties are not lost and once you get into the groove, the album caresses your ears, and is just the thing for these dark, dank, gloomy days that struggle to rise above the grey. Indeed, the lyrics give a sense of battling through against dark forces, guided by an eternal optimism. This from opener Carpe Diem is a sentiment I can well appreciate, after a personally alternately horrible and then enlightening year: “Step into your life, Leave the past behind, There’s just this moment, There’s just this moment”. The song even gets me failing to recall my Grammar School Latin at one point, so I had to look up “Dum vivat viviamus”! You might think including Latin in a song is pretentious, but not a bit of it. It’s about time that those of us with an education (and there are many with far more of it than I!) were not afraid to show it, if you ask me.
If there is such a thing as a single from the album, it is the uplifting Alchemy, which has an accompanying video. Carollyn’s voice soars through the upper reaches of this emotional booster pack like an eagle in full flight. Lovely!
Self-determination and an overriding desire to triumph over adversity is not a bad way to live one’s life and the theme crops up throughout. “Deva” is the masculine heavenly being in Hinduism, which might be surprising given that there is a powerful femininity in all this music. Although that is not necessarily the correct interpretation, as you will discover in the accompanying interview. That’s not to say Stuart is but a bit player, as his musical contributions and arrangements are far from minor. Often his guitar lines wind their way ’round Carollyn’s piano melodies like two coiled snakes in simpatico. His solos are short but powerful, making or underlining a point with a deft economy of style.
Described by Carollyn as “a monster of a track” and “so much fun to play”, the joy in the grooves ofThe Garden of Wisdom is self-evident as it waltzes along and builds to Stuart’s concise but sharp guitar solo. Throughout, Carollyn’s piano work has a melodic charm that melts this once hard old heart. Her vocal gymnastics on this song will draw inevitable comparisons with you-know-who, but there is quite enough going on here to ignore that, thank you very much! A tale of rising from a bad relationship, this is another example of the power of positive thought, and refusing to be beaten down, consistent lyrical themes of Carollyn’s. Listening to this, you cannot help but have your spirits lifted, which is something we all need in these grim days, I would assume.
The album ends with the glorious epic The Journey. A neat distillation of everything that has gone before, the whole band riding a wave of musical good vibes, the rhythm section driving along an ever-ascending tune that soars above the clouds with some great cello work from Hannah Reeves.
The proof in the pudding of any band is how good they are live, and Storm Deva have no worries on that score, even in the minimal setting I witnessed them. It will be great to see them with a full backing band, hopefully soon. This band are good for the spirit.
[You can read Roger’s interview with Storm Deva HERE.]
01. Carpe Diem (6:05)
02. Alchemy (6:37)
03. Storm Deva (5:58)
04. Free (4:35)
05. Come Back to Me (4:22)
06. The Garden of Wisdom (8:17)
07. The Dance (5:37)
08. Believing (4:59)
09. The Journey (10:57)
Total Time – 57:30
Carollyn Eden – Lead & Backing Vocals, Piano, Synthesiser, Percussion, Bass Pedals
Stuart Clark – Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Bass Pedals
Hannah Reeves – Cello, Backing Vocals
Robert Brian – Drums & Percussion
Dan Giles – Bass Guitar
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 1st December 2023