Imperial Measures - Words to the Wise

Imperial Measures – Words to the Wise

Words to the Wise is a gorgeous album. Signalling the beginning of a new project from Peter Rand (keyboards), Kevin Hartnell (drums) and Stefanie Kisamore (vocals, guitar), this absorbing debut release offers us seven engaging musical vignettes rich with elegant melodies and sumptuous layers which transfix and engross in equal measure.

What is impressive across the album is precisely that refined sense of musical balance and creative vitality which allows the various instruments as well as the vocals to find their perfect space and place in the way the music builds momentum and in the process form the most tremendous and exhilarating interactions.

The opening title track is a brilliant introduction to their musical world-building. The simplicity of the measured guitar chords, joined later by a steady drum beat, is then overlayed with Kisamore’s beautifully haunting, lamenting vocal. It’s not until well over a minute into the song that the vocal is finally unleashed into a wonderfully soaring crescendo, full of power and life. The guitar solo that follows seamlessly carries that fizzing spirit further, perfect in its pace, intensity and power.

Long Time Coming again starts with that captivating, seductive voice framed against a quiet layered keyboard background; an arpeggio guitar joins the musical swelling until the most glorious outpouring of emotional melodies, a fabulous bass guitar interjecting into the spaces created between verses and carrying the mood and energy of the song forward. It is hard not to be transfixed by the irresistible pull of the ensemble and the enticing allure of the vocal nestling in this fabulously crafted musical cradle.

In contrast, You and I is more demonstrative, bordering on the aggressive in tone and outlook. An emphatic, pervasive drum beat sets the scene where the vocals are forced to assume a cutting edginess, firm yet piercing, with the keys riding shotgun to provide a controlling, menacing atmosphere with occasional moments of relief.

Chemistry Lessons has a more languid, easy-going feel, with the bass guitar doing a fantastic job of setting the tone and the character for the song. The timbre of the vocal changes again; confident but edged with a tinge of sorrow. Here, the guitars and keys are much more expansive, filling the musical horizon with luscious textures and sweeping layers.

The closing track Far Off Tides is magnificent and showcases exactly what this whole album is about. The instrumental balance is matched by two sets of vocals swooping and soaring in response to the organic ebbs and flows of the music. The slightly echoed guitar work shines brightly before the vocals return with a smooth but commanding clarity and a fading end theatrically framing the perfect picture of being carried away on the far-off tide.

Words to the Wise is a genuinely impressive debut. Lovingly crafted musical scenes find the most wonderful expressions in music which is inviting and joyfully affirming. The songs create imposing resonances that have dramatic power and an ability to both provoke as well as fondly linger. Overall, it is a stirring listen and one which prompts a warm smile on each returning visit.

01. Words to the Wise (3:38)
02. Long Time Coming (5:08)
03. Perfect Circle (3:17)
04. You and I (3:27)
05. Chemistry Lessons (4:32)
06. The Price of Soap (4:12)
07. Far off Tides (4:23)

Total Time – 28:37

Kevin Hartnell – Drums
Stefanie Kisamore – Vocals
Peter Rand – Keyboards and Guitars
~ With:
David Claridge – Vocals (track 7)
Vijay Puri – Lead Guitar (track 1)
Jamie Williams – Lead Guitar (track 3)
Philippe Pansard – Bass (track 3)
Steve Johnson – Bass (tracks 1,2 & 7)
Jim Bryan – Bass (track 5)
Moe Howard – Piano (track 2)
Nick DeNardo – Drums (track 7)

Record Label: Independent
Format: Digital
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 1st January 2024

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