Karnataka - 2000 The Storm

ARTIST: Karnataka
ALBUM: The Storm
LABEL: Immrama Records
YEAR: 2000

LINEUP: Rachel Jones - vocals * Jonathan Edwards - keyboards * Ian Jones - bass, acoustic guitar, samples, bodhran * Paul Davies - guitars * Gavin John Griffiths - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Heaven Can Wait * 02 Dreamer * 03 The Journey * 04 Hay * 05 Love And Affection * 06 I Should Have Known * 07 Everything Must Change * 08 Shine * 09 Writing On The Wall * 10 The Storm


'The Storm' is Welsh five piece Karnataka's follow up to their debut and having been described as a cross between, Clannad, The Cranberries and All About Eve, fans of soft AOR with a prog rock influence (and a few Celtic touches thrown in for good measure) should have high hopes of an excellent album.

A glance at the back cover of this excellently packaged CD provides an insight into Karnataka's music, an ethereal, almost ghostlike figure is shown on a deserted and gloomy beach, and this image neatly encapsulates the haunting, often moody quality of the ten tracks on offer.

Yet despite the excellent musicianship of the band and the stunning vocals of Rachel Jones, where this self produced and self financed album critically falls down is the similarity of much of the material on it.

The Songs

Opening track 'Heaven Can Wait' certainly bodes well for the remainder of the CD. Rachel's vocals are stamped all over this track and help to establish an identifiable Karnataka sound. Indeed, the vocals remind me of how well Kim Richey (US country/rock singer songwriter) used her vocals as a sixth instrument on last year's 'Glimmer' CD - so powerful are her leads and backing arrangements.

The folky, Celtic side to the bands' music is also showcased to fine effect here. Another early highlight is 'The Journey', a mini epic which combines a distinctive melody line with some fine guitar work by Paul Davies and could lay claim to being the best track on the album.

The following track 'Hay' also tries to vary things a little with some harp-like acoustic guitar in the intro. Yet much of the remaining material, though rich in sound and exquisitely performed, is not as immediate as the aforementioned songs and plods along without too much fuss.

The title track, in particular is guilty of this, with its damp and dreary lyric content weighing the song down. Similarly, 'Love and Affection', 'Shine' and 'Everything Must Change' are very similar to each other and become buried amongst Rachel's unique voice.

Karnataka rescue things slightly towards the end with 'The Writing On The Wall', which raises the tempo a notch, but by this point, the voice of Rachel Jones has taken prominence over the songs themselves and they begin to sound a little derivative.

In Summary

That said, it's not all doom and gloom. After a few spins, the songs do grow on you and Karnataka are obviously accomplished musicians and can write good songs. I just get the impression that the band need to inject a little more energy and stronger melody into their music to make it stand out more.

Overall, 'The Storm' is not disastrous, but could certainly do with a lightning strike or two to liven it up.

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