Rise Above – Out Now.

Retro rock is enjoying a renewed wave of interest and, and in typical fashion for the music industry, record labels are in a rush to capitalise on it by signing as many such bands as they possibly can. Most will make no impression, some of them will remind you of all the bands you grew up listening to and only a handful of them will really manage to rock your world.

London-based quintet Purson is a band that certainly belongs in the latter category, as demonstrated by the quality of their debut release, entitled “The Circle and the Black Door”.

It is not at all surprising that the label through which Purson release their debut album is Lee Dorian’s Rise Above Records. Why? Simply because these noisy Londoners ticked all the right boxes in order to grab the attention of Cathedral’s charismatic frontman: strong, memorable guitar melodies, technically efficient themes which border on prog, but do not quite enter its realm, and a vocal, powerful enough to knock your socks off.

Purson incorporate all these elements in abundance! Imagine a band that mixes the pop sensibilities of the Beatles with the acid folk prowess of Curved Air, throw in massive amounts of prog-influenced atmospheric keys and Sabbath/Pentagram-infused riffs and you are half way to describing what this young group of musicians are all about. Great stuff, huh?

While each member of Purson clearly makes their presence felt throughout this eleven track album, it is singer/rhythm guitarist Rosalie Cunningham who is quite deservedly the focal point of the band’s music.

It is impressive that at twenty three, Rosalie sounds as powerful and authoritative as she does, making comparisons between her and Sonja Kristina Linwood, Curved Air’s amazing front woman, totally justified.

Her powerful renditions on songs like the atmospheric opener “Wake Up Sleepy Head”, the moody ballad “Sailor’s Wife’s Lament” and the funk/groovy duet “Well Soiled Machine” / “Sapphire Ward” certainly separate her from the crowd, yet, this is hardly the best material this album has to offer.

For that, your focus should be on the atmospheric keyboard themes of “The Contract”, the groovy sing-along tunes of “Spiderwood Farm”/“Leaning on a Bear” and the breathtaking sing along melodies of the refrain for “Mavericks and Mystics” – all moments of priceless emotional and artistic quality.

I had the pleasure of seeing Purson live prior to receiving the promo copy of “The Circle and the Blue Door” and I am happy to report that if, like me, you enjoy the album, you should definitely see them live.

Rise Above records have hit a goldmine with Purson – a band that should be able to make an impact in the music world, provided they receive enough support to fulfil their massive potential. A strong contender for my top list of albums for 2013!

John Stefanis

Rating: ****½ (4.5/5.0)

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