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by Brad Kesner | Photos by Martin Reijman

One thing for certain, anything Dave Bainbridge touches turns to gold. His latest solo album To the Far Away is no exception. It is another addition to the collection of perfection of which he is a part. Dave’s work both with his solo band and his iconic band IONA melts away time and takes us to earlier days, to distant shores, and speaks directly to our primal spirits and to our hearts. His music weaves wonderful stories and his spirituality shines through all that he does in a most magnificent way. To the Far Away tells such a beautiful tale like this and the album has already received tons of critical acclaim. In fact, Dave is no mere musician. He is an extremely talented multi instrumentalist, a brilliant composer, and plays guitars, keyboards, and a grand assortment of acoustic instruments on this album as he has done on his past albums. Stellar indeed! One can also be certain that he has the very best of supporting and guest musicians on his albums with vocals that are both exceptional and beautiful. I have followed all of Dave’s work over the years and everything is flawless. I am proud to have all of his albums and I must say without hesitation that his genius is reflected in all of them. His entire discography is truly exceptional and I highly recommend that you check out all of Dave’s current and past albums.

Dave Bainbridge has an exceptional musical history woven into his DNA. He has been involved in music for the majority of his life. His musical journey started at the age of eight with classical piano lessons. He then started with guitar at the age of thirteen, and joined his first band Exodus at the age of fourteen. Dave always had musical influences all about him. His father played the guitar and banjo and his mother played the accordion and organ. Other family members were also musicians such as his sister Maureen who was eight years older and who was a great singer and piano player. His sister joined a local band when he was 10 and they stored their Hammond Organ in his home. He would sneak in and play on it when everyone was out. Listening to his sister’s albums (such as Hendrix, Jethro Tull, Vanilla Fudge, and Woodstock) was a great influence on Dave’s tastes. Dave went on to Leeds College of Music, where he graduated with first class honors and a distinction in arranging. Initially, Dave’s focused on classical music, but he decided to enroll in what was the only jazz and contemporary music course in the country at that time. agaHe wasn’t particularly interested in jazz at the time, but he knew a few people who had done this course and become successful artists. (This was a great move for Dave for it opened his eyes to a world beyond rock and progressive music and added new jazz piano influences to his tastes such as greats like Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea.) While at college, Dave earned the “BBC Radio 2 Best Jazz Soloist Award”. During his tenure at college, he met singer and songwriter Adrian Snell which led to an eight year working partnership. Through this period, he met Joanne Hogg and David Fitzgerald which led to the creation of the group Iona. That was the beginning of a match made in Heaven with the band releasing 13 critically acclaimed albums between 1989 and 2015 and the band touring the world. In 2020, Dave produced the incredible Book of Iona 17 CD box set which celebrates the 30th Anniversary of Iona. Dave was the creative force for Iona which fused rock, jazz, progressive, folk, and the spirituality of early Celtic. Iona captured an international audience and even collaborating with Prog Rock greats such as Nick Beggs (the band’s first bassist) and Robert Fripp (who provided ambient sounds for two incredible albums by the band). Beyond Iona, Dave has released four solo studio albums ….. Veil of Gossamer (2004) …..Celestial Fire (2014) (which led to the creation of the Celestial Fire Band in 2015 and the Celestial Fire band Live in the UK DVD/2 CD album, which was released in April 2017) …..The Remembering (2016) (a solo piano album) ….. and most recently, To the Far Away (2021).

Dave has had a very diverse career utilizing his broad set of talents as a guitarist, keyboardist, composer, sound mixer, arranger, producer, solo artist, and teacher. He also has a phenomenal resume to boot crossing many different genres including Progressive Rock, Celtic music, Classic, Jazz, and spiritual music. Along with Dave’s solo work and his music with Iona, you will also find he is the current keyboard player with Strawbs and the guitarist and more in Lifesigns along with the phenomenal John Young. Dave has released two collaborative albums with Iona’s David Fitzgerald plus two more with Troy Donockley. In addition, Dave has contributed to albums by Glass Hammer, Downes Braide Association, Nick Fletcher, Celtish, Kimmo Porsti, and Cronofonia. Dave has also worked with artists such as Buddy Guy, Jack Bruce, Nick Beggs, Robert Fripp, Paul Jones, Gloria Gaynor, Troy Donockley of Nightwish, and worked with wonderful folk singers such as Mae McKenna and Moya Brennan. Further, Dave has co-written a guitar concerto with Nick Fletcher which was released on the album Cathedral of Dreams (2009). Whew! Time to catch your breath! Add to all of that, the fact that he has composed soundtracks for numerous short films plus multimedia productions and TV, it all creates a very impressive resume indeed! Dave’s work continues to receive critical acclaim and praise including that from among such outstanding peers such as Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic), Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, Kajagoogoo), and John Kellogg (producer for Deep Purple, ELP, Foreigner, Chicago, Black Crows).
To keep up with and to learn more about Dave Bainbridge please visit: www.davebainbridgemusic.com, https://www.facebook.com/DaveBainbridgeMusic/, and also www.patreon.com/davebainbridge .

I expected To the Far Away to deliver a wonderful listening experience, and it certainly delivers. The feedback has been stellar on Dave’s album and I agree that it is one of the best progressive rock albums of 2021. Let me tell you, this album provides 72 minutes of ambrosia from start to finish …. Absolutely breath taking. Dave does a stellar job in assuring he has a first class line up for his albums and he has outdone himself on this album. Sally Minnear (Celestial Fire) and Iain Hornal (10CC, Jeff Lynn’s ELO) provide heavenly vocals. Sally is the daughter of Kerry Minnear (Gentle Giant), so she most definitely has a musical heritage. Magnificent poetic lyrics are provided by Lynn Caldwell and the tale is told of a modern day love story of lovers separated across the ocean by the pandemic with all the feelings and emotions flowing through Dave and his beautiful creation. There is no doubt the lockdown of 2020 was a difficult time for Dave and other musicians, struggling with all the uncertainties of that time. Venues were shut down in 2020 leaving musicians without places to play or any certainty of income. Dave utilized this time to create and record this album. Fellow band members from Iona join Dave here ….. Frank van Essen (drums, viola, violin) …. Troy Donockley (Nightwish, Iona, Maddy Prior, The Enid) and Martin Nolan provide whistles plus Troy also does uillean pipes. Other musicians include Julie Cameron Hall (Celtish) on violin, Jon Poole (Lifesigns, The Wildhearts, Cardiacs) on bass, Jonas Pap on cello, and Nigel Cameron (Celtish) on whistles ….. a magnificent line up indeed. All together, a most incredible musically divine story is created that draws you in deeply and emotionally on each and every note. In your mind as you listen, you can literally envision yourself on these far away shores with the powerful emotions pulling at your heart.

Yes, there is no doubt about it; Dave Bainbridge has continued to wow us throughout his musical career. His adept mastering of guitar and keyboards shines through on every song. All of the albums with Iona and Dave’s solo bands lead us on a path where he continues to amaze us with each and every album by constantly evolving and creating brilliant and masterful music. To the Far Away, Dave’s newest masterpiece, is further proof of a true artist that continues to hone his skills to a higher level of perfection. Through this album, Dave paints a tapestry of beautiful music weaving a story that is a modern day love story about two lovers who are separated by the Pandemic and by distant shores. As a matter of fact, the Pandemic and global lockdown were the inspiration for this album when Dave and his fiancée Sharon were separated a day before he was to the fly to USA for their wedding. Back in March of 2020, Dave was supposed to fly to Miami to go on “Cruise to the Edge” where they were going to be married. It was going to be quite a spectacular wedding with Neal Morse who was to be officiating and John Young (Lifesigns) who was going to be his best man. Unfortunately, one day after his last Lifesign’s show with John Young, the USA closed its borders. Dave and his fiancée were separated for eight-and-a-half-months. His fiancée, was in Baltimore and unable to fly out of the country. (However, Dave and his long-separated fiancée finally were able to get married during the recording of this album. They were eventually reunited in November 2020 and got married in December 2020.) Most impressive is Dave’s positivity and faith throughout all of this. I love Dave’s comments in the album notes, “Even in such terrible times, much beauty can be found if we have the eyes to see, and there is always hope.” There is no doubt that this is a breath taking tale from start to finish. I must also add that as entranced as I was listening to this album, the vocals by Sally Minnear would add an additional level of goose bumps. That is not an easy feat when I already had a level of goose bumps from Dave’s incredible guitar playing. Truly though, every musician on this album has put their heart and soul into every song.

Start to finish, this is a story beautifully told by poetry and music with “Sea Gazer” starting the tale. “Sea Gazer” starts instrumentally with the sounds of the sea immediately drawing us in to an almost mystical Celtic mood and one that also immediately takes us to a land beyond our own shores. Sally Minnear’s angelic vocal enters about mid way through the song letting you know you are about to pass through a most magnificent tale. As the music flows into “Girl and the Magical Sky”, Sally Minnear leads with spoken poetic words and further with her beautiful vocals with the music transitioning from mellow bliss to powerful energy throughout the song. Dave also treats us with a most wonderful solo. This song is easily among my favorites on the album.

The instrumental “Rain and Sun” has a very nice Oldfield feel to it. “Clear Skies” adds a nice rock feel with Dave’s powerful electric guitar and Jon Poole’s superb bass. Add in a perfect dash of Celtic vocals and you have created one terrific song here. “Ghost Light” then totally blew me away ….. also definitely in my favorites on this album. This is a 14 minute epic with a superb blend of Prog, Classical, and Rock reminding me of some of my favorite Yes and Pink Floyd songs performed as only Dave can in his own unique style. Bring in Dave’s masterful guitar playing, Jon Poole’s epic bass, and then the brilliant chorus of vocals from Sally Minnear and Iain Homel (10cc, ELO) and you can easily understand why I love this song so much.

“Cathedral Thinkers” is another fine instrumental with a keyboard portion at the end which brought some of the finest Keith Emerson moments to mind. “To Gain the Ocean” follows very nicely with vocals by Iain Homal and then chorus with Sally. The heartbreak of the distance between the lovers is brought beautifully into the story. “As Night Falls” is a short instrumental tying in very nicely to “Infinitude (Region of the Stars)”. “Infinitude (Region of the Stars)” is further testimony to Dave’s ability to bring a masterful classical touch to the story with violins and violas creating a heart touching emotional journey with Sally Minnear’s distant vocals adding to the heartbreak. The ideal title track, “To the Far Away”, brings together a fun and playful Celtic melody where one can imagine joyful dancing which then evolves into a glorious rock anthem very much reflecting Dave’s evolution over the years. “Speed Your Journey” brings Sally’s vocals back into the mix where all the musicians are playing their hearts out in the rapid pacing of the music. Excellent! “Fells Point” provides an instrumental bridge from “Speed Your Journey” to the finale “Something Astonishing”, which completes the circle of this most glorious and beautiful journey.

All in all, this is a brilliant album which most definitely reflects the genius of Dave Bainbridge. It is very easy to see why this album has earned so much critical acclaim and why it is among the top rated Prog albums still to this date. Dave was also voted # 3 in Prog Magazine’s Best Guitarists of 2021 Readers Poll. Most definitely well deserved. The standard edition single CD is excellent, but I highly recommend the 2 CD version which adds extended versions, alternative takes, demos, and additional tracks not on the standard disk such as “Amidst the Storm”, “Lincolnshire Country Lane” (The sights and sounds of this very country lane near where Dave lives in the changing seasons and where he went on his daily runs and walks became a source of inspiration and hope during his separation. In fact, the original title of the album was “A Lincolnshire Country Lane”.), “A World Without Shadows”, “Lost At Sea”, “Song For Charlie”, and “Downtime Jam” which a true jam and rocker (I love it). The two CD version of the album is also available as a signed version. Outstanding! Absolutely a must have and highly recommended to those who love masterfully performed and brilliantly composed Prog Rock! This album definitely rewards you with each additional listen. I can only imagine what Dave has in store for us next. Well done Dave!

Studio Album, released in September 30, 2021
Line-up / Musicians – Dave Bainbridge / many instruments, Sally Minnear / vocals, Iain Hornal / vocals, Troy Donockley / high & low whistles, uillean pipes, Cumbrian voices, Frank van Essen / drums, solo violin, ensemble violins & violas, Jon Poole / fretted & fretless basses, Jonas Pap / cello, Nigel Cameron / whistles, Julie Cameron-Hall / violin, Martin Nolan / whistles

Songs / Tracks Listing

Standard CD and CD 1 of two CD Edition 1. Sea Gazer (6:12), 2. Girl and the Magical Sky (8:00), 3. Rain and Sun (4:12), 4. Clear Skies (6:21), 5. Ghost Light (14:13), 6. Cathedral Thinkers (3:09), 7. To Gain the Ocean (4:07), 8. As Night Falls (1:52), 9. Infinitude (Region of the Stars) (6:48), 10. To the Far Away (4:43), 11. Speed Your Journey (4:29), 12. Fells Point (2:58), 13. Something Astonishing (4:18)
CD 2 of Deluxe two CD Edition 1. Sea Gazer – Acoustic Mix, 2. Clear Skies – More Guitar Ending, 3. Amidst the Storm, 4. Cathedral Thinkers – Piano, Bass, and Drums Mix, 5. Downtime Jam, 6. A Lincolnshire Country Lane, 7. A World Without Shadows, 8. Infinitude (Region of the Stars) – Extended Version, 9. Lost at Sea, 10. Sea Gazer – Demo, 11. Girl and the Magical Sky – Demo, 12. Rain and Sun – Demo, 13. Clear Skies – Demo, 14. Ghost Light – Demo, 15. To Gain the Ocean – Demo, 16. Speed Your Journey – Demo, 17. Song for Charlie

You can find To The Far Away here: https://www.musicglue.com/iona or in the USA at https://thebandwagonusa.com/collections/dave-bainbridge
You can also find all of Dave’s albums at: https://www.musicglue.com/iona/shop/categories/dave-bainbridge

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