Ken Baird

Orion

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    6
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For his third album, Orion, Ken Baird decided to put the name of singer Sue Fraser beside his. It could be viewed as an indicator of the importance the song has taken over the years in his work, replacing his long instrumental pieces. A change for the better, one might add, and for two main reasons: the first is Baird's magnificent ability to craft unforgettable aerial melodies, a skill he learned from listening to Mike Oldfield; the second is Sue Fraser's beautiful voice, which got even stronger since the recording of Baird's Fields and is now fully featured. While on the previous album Baird was restricted to backing vocal appearances, she now sings lead on four of the seven tracks. Fraser's voice calls for a reference to Renaissance's Annie Haslam and, with Orion, one can't help but feel there hadn't been such a well-matched team of songwriter and singer since the heyday of Renaissance. The remaining tracks are sung by Baird, who still does a good job. Musically speaking, Orion continues in the same direction as Fields: short prog-oriented piano and keyboard-driven pop songs with a strong Oldfield feel in the melodies and arrangements (especially the electric guitar lines), with a couple of longer and more symphonic numbers. The title track would have gained from a better guitarist and a better mix (it lacks bass in some sections) and the very abrupt and frustrating end of "Shadow Walls" is highly questionable, but songs like "Dolphins" and "Waving Goodbye" are splendid pop-prog gems. Orion is less substantial than Fields (both in terms of length and writing), but Fraser's voice taking center stage is one giant redeeming factor.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
1:46 Amazon
2
4:20 Amazon
3
4:02 Amazon
4
3:36 Amazon
5
12:43 Amazon
6
9:00 Amazon
7
2:08 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick