To celebrate the release of her new live album, We Followed Every Sound, which came out earlier this week via City Slang, Dear Reader aka Cheri MacNeil has unveiled a full stream of the new record.
Following from previous album Rivonia, We Followed Every Sound draws on Cheri’s experience growing up in apartheid South Africa. Recorded with the German Film Orchestra of Babelsberg, the new album sees the already emotional music of Dear Reader taken to a whole new level to create a record that is at times unnerving yet simultaneously beautiful. You can listen to the album in full here.
Earlier this year, Dear Reader made a bold move by releasing Rivonia. Unlike your average LP, it was an album of stories, histories and anecdotes that were all inspired by and dealing with the country she was born and raised in – South Africa. The album received a reception of great critical acclaim and showcased Cheri’s ability to tell a great story within the framework of intelligent and witty pop songs. The imagery and pictures her exuberant storytelling evoked were rich and vivid, despite the often-bleak realities depicted.
When Potsdam-based radio Station Radio Eins offered up the opportunity to perform the songs of Rivonia with the added dramatic texture of an entire symphonic orchestra, it felt only logical. The songs are musical miniature movies and the Film Orchestra of Babelsberg specialises in recording film scores. Music for the big screen. A marriage made in heaven.
The result is We Followed Every Sound, an album which sees the songs of Rivonia taken to new levels of dramatic and dynamic thrill. Under the careful guidance of conductor Bernd Wefelmayer and his orchestra, and by way of the creative orchestra arrangements of dramaturge Max Knoth, the songs in question, already magical in their own right, climb to new heights of scintillating warmth and intensity. The vocal performances of the band members on this magical evening, Cherilyn MacNeil, Emma Greenfield, Caoimhe McAlister and Sam Vance-Law are impeccable and the entire Dear Reader band plays with the verve and confidence of a well-oiled road machine. Excited by the accompanying orchestra, thrilled by the possibilities of their own music, it is simply a joy to listen to. And it is only the icing on the cake that it is not only the songs of Rivonia they are revisiting with this expanded configuration but that they also tackle classic Dear Reader stand-out tracks from previous albums, such as Great White Bear, Dearheart and Idealistic Animals.
At times troubling and at times deeply moving, the music of Dear Reader is known for raising more questions than answers and it achieves this within the context of a collection of magical, dramatic, heartfelt songs. The power of the German Film Orchestra only extenuates this to create an album that is quite frankly immense in it’s force.