James Levy & The Blood Red Rose - Pray To Be Free

James Levy & The Blood Red Rose - Pray To Be Free
Album Reviews

It would be a hard heart indeed not to fall for music as lovely as this.

Label: Heavenly Recordings
Released: 6th February 2012
Reviewer: Martyn Young
The duet is a much under-used art form in contemporary pop. There still remains something infinitely powerful about the dynamic between two different voices and it is a dynamic that James Levy in conjunction with The Pierces’ Alison Pierce have harnessed beautifully on ‘Pray To Be Free’.

Working under the name James Levy & The Blood Red Rose, Levy and Pierce have created an album rich in melody and lovingly crafted songs imbued with the spirit of classic 1960’s orchestral pop, reminiscent of the likes of Burt Bacharach, and in particular Lee Hazelwood’s famous duets with Nancy Sinatra.

Produced by Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman, the sound is lush and smooth and is a perfect fit for the sweeping strings and jaunty horns that dominate the record. There is a great contrast between the two voices, Levy’s Baritone croon is offset with Pierce’s sensual lilt giving a wonderfully rich sound. Pierce appears to be the perfect foil to bring Levy’s songs to life.

Despite its melodic and exuberant sound, ‘Pray To Be Free’ is a collection of songs with a dark heart; the album primarily deals with romance and all the strong feelings that it entails. 'Sneak Into My Room’ is a case in point as it tells a story about infidelity and a forbidden relationship scattered with lines like, “I want to kiss you but I must refrain.” The theme of desire is again explored on the filmic and theatrical 'Keep My Baby' as Pierce’s sultry vocal intones “I’ve got it, you want it.”

The horn flecked and achingly sad 'Positively East Broadway' that sees Levy croon “I love you more than music, let it come" is a particularly lovely moment in a record that frequently charms. Perhaps the album's best moment, however, is a showcase for Alison Pierce with the lovely swinging country sound of 'Crying To The River'. It would be a hard heart indeed not to fall for music as lovely as this.

There are weaker moments on the record when the quality of the songs slightly sags, such as the lightweight ‘Painted Red’, but there is, overall, a great consistency to these songs. The album ends with Levy singing the rolling country pop of ‘Precious Age Of 13' in half Hebrew and it is a brilliantly beguiling way to end the album.

There is certainly a strong chemistry between Levy and Pierce and ‘Pray To Be Free’ showcases that effortlessly. This could be just the start of a very fruitful musical union.
Rating: 7/10
Click like to get the latest music news, hottest tracks and more via Facebook.
comments powered by Disqus