I bumped into Rod Standen at a gig at Romford Folk Club a short while ago (see my review #99) He played ‘Voices Of The Night’, (a track from his album Poetic Force: Poetry In Emotion) during the Open Floor session at the club before the headline act. It was an interesting piece. I had a chat with him afterwards and he kindly gave me a CD copy of the album for review.
Poetic Force: Poetry In Emotion is a concept album. There are seven tracks in all. Lyrically each is a famous poem of the Romantic genre put to Rod’s music. Blake; Wordsworth; Gregory Smith; John Clare; and William Henley’s work are all represented; and there are two poems from Longfellow. Talking to Rod after that gig, he was enthusing about the power of verse to inspire his music. I can see that myself, because at the age of about fifteen I remember naively trying to set the words of Tennyson’s ‘Charge Of The Light Brigade’ to my own Rock music – and with only a limited knowledge of the guitar at the time, had to give up. (Thank God I have never been tempted to reawaken that project!) But the concept has long been in my head; so I warmed to Rod’s idea immediately. (Something slightly overlapping this work is Ange Hardy‘s recent concept album on the life and works of Coleridge: Esteesee – see my review #72).
Rod has produced a very interesting album. It is clear, I think, that the music is merely a vehicle for the verse – and fair enough too. These classic poems need no appraisal from me – and nor am I qualified to do so. Musically it is good, although the accusation of ‘saminess’ may be levelled at the collection by some. Each track has a busy acoustic guitar part which is fine but a little repetitive (although I must emphasise, played by Rod very well indeed); and there is little variation in vocal melody from track to track. Even so, I found it very pleasant to listen to as I worked at home recently – and it is for listening to after all, due to the use of the classic verse.
Rod seems to have done almost everything himself on this project: from writing the music and recording the songs; to designing the sleeve; writing the notes on the excellent enclosed leaflet – and even personally sticking the label on the CD. He told me that he recorded the whole album whilst his wife was on a shopping trip one day! This is a unique collection, and Rod is to be highly commended for it – and at only a fiver, it is real value for money! I’d say buy it if you have an appreciation of the Romantic poets; or even if you just like something a bit different. PTMQ.
Rod will be playing a live session at Romford’s TIME FM 107.5 (Karen Lennon Show); this Saturday, 25th June at 11AM. Worth having a listen, I think.
The CD is available from Rod’s Ebay page
Or, for those local to Romford, from Fairkytes Arts Centre, Hornchurch Essex
Contact Rod … firstname.lastname@example.org