Year of Release: 2001
Label: Cosmas Records
Catalog Number: CMCD 707
Total Time: 38:20:00
A great deal has happened since our ex-Threshold and ex-Landmarq singer became one of the main characters in the succesful Les Mis?rables cast. Not only does he see himself as the singer in Rick Wakeman's New English Rock Ensemble, as a guest singer on many Ayreon albums including the Star One project, our good friend Damian Wilson also became aware how important family values are. Something he surely didn't have when he was a kid. It's that scar that makes up all of the new, mainly acoustic album Disciple, which differs a great deal from his previous solo output Cosmas.
Backbone for the entire album is the final John Lennon composition ever "Grow Old With Me" which contains lush symphonic arrangements courtesy of the City of Sheffield Youth Orchestra and recorded at the world famous Abbey Road studios. No doubt the budget didn't stretch far enough to record all of the material there, so half of the songs don't even contain the orchestra and settle for a minimalistic acoustic arrangement. Some of them even come close to the "busking" treatment. Of course this results in a very intimate album where next to the rather personal statements, Damian's voice becomes the main instrument. Take the opening title track where real strings and oboe fortify the message of the song, leaving enough room for the voice to sound very clear and perfectly understandable. That "clear" element will be an important feature throughout this rather short album, such as all of the percussion during "Brightest Way" which comes forward in the mix ever so detailed. Approaching the music from a pure acoustic side often means adding authentic elements to the music which sometimes results in a folky atmosphere. Take "Heavenly Mine" as a prime example when violin does indeed introduce a pastoral feel.
We said that Disciple is a very important and personal album for Damian, dedicated to both of his sons who not only delivered some colourful drawings for "daddy," but can also be heard on "Beating Inside" which once again contains some very tasteful violin. The way in which he sings "What A Man Can Dream" slightly makes me think of someone like Ralph McTell, who also was someone who was more like telling a story as opposed to really singing. The piano and background vocals in "Adam's Child" makes me think a bit of the solo parts by Andrew McCrorie-Shand on the Druid albums, resulting in very "fragile" music. But then the time has come to sit back and enjoy the main reason for this album: John Lennon's "Grow Old With Me," recorded at the Abbey Road Studios together with Alex Sharpe with whom Damian sang during his stint with Les Mis?rables. The result is indeed breathtaking what with the full bodied sound of the orchestra adding power to the words. It hasn't become the kind of arrangement one would immediately associate with weddings though but it certainly is a tribute to the unlimited talent of the late John Lennon.
Strangely enough there are two versions of Disciple, the first being the jewel case version I have in my collection which doesn't even mention "Grow Old With Me" as a song, as only ten songs have been numbered, whilst there are eleven songs on the disc. The second edition concerns a double digipack version which puts the ten "other" songs onto one disc and then puts "Grow Old With Me" as the first track on the second disc together with four extra tracks. Not really a good marketing technique if you ask me, but then again whom am I to judge someone's artistic output?
The solo work of Damian Wilson is a bit contradictory as on his first album Cosmas he sings "don't want to grow much older now" in the song "When I Leave This Land." That was 1997, but today in 2002 he sings full of wisdom "Grow Old With Me." How time can change a man drastically!
Disciple (5:01) / Brightest Way (3:18) / Heavenly Mine (3:07) / Beating Inside (5:02) / What A Man Can Dream (3:03) / Never Close The Door (2:51) / Nothing Without You (2:34) / Part Of Me (3:43) / Adam's Child (3:21) / Quietly Spoken (2:45) / Grow Old With Me (3:31)
Damian Wilson - vocals, acoustic guitar
Patrick Hannan - drums
Frank Tontoh - drums
Matt Hughes - bass
Phil Mulford - bass
Murdoch Macdonald - percussion
Kevin Jamieson - guitars
Andrew Holdsworth - piano, rhodes, hammond, harpsichord, vibraphone, xylophone, acoustic guitar, bass
Alex Sharpe - vocals
The City of Sheffield Youth Orchestra
Landmarq - Solitary Witness (1992/2002)
Landmarq - Infinity Parade (1993/2002)
Threshold - Wounded Land (1993)
Landmarq - The Vision Pit (1995)
Threshold - Extinct Instinct (1997)
Live At Rehearsal (2002)
Let's Start A Commune (2007)
Threshold - The Ravages Of Time (2007)
Headspace - I Am (ep) (2007)
Genre: Progressive Rock