Angelic voiced Jon Anderson may have achieved his greatest fame and accolades as lead singer of the legendary British progressive rock band Yes, but his solo ventures-from 1976's Olias of Sunhillow to his first Higher Octave release, the primarily instrumental Angels Embrace-have tapped into a more personal, spiritual side of his artistry. Anderson's two recent Windham Hill releases Deseo and Toltec expanded his cultural reach even further, establishing him as a masterful world music artist in the genres of Latin and Native American music. For The Promise Ring, which marks the debut of Higher Octave's new vocal imprint label Omtown, Anderson delves into his own heritage for a thrilling celebration of traditional Irish and Celtic melodies. Singing his own lyrics to the joyous, percussive sounds of multiple fiddles, pennywhistles, and mandolins, Anderson envisions "Eireland, as if I was living in the year 2002 and Eire was once again One" after years of political strife. He and his cast of close to 30 musicians recorded the nine tracks live at a pub in San Luis Obispo, CA Opio Studio and in a small church in San Luis Obispo over three nights to recapture the spontaneous feeling of the music as Anderson first heard it. The lyrics on this homespun project range from the hopeful spiritual messages of "Born to Dance" and the title track to more personal romantic expressions on "True Life Song" and "Flowers of the Morning." From the folkloric imagery of "The Timing of the Known" to a wistful, poetic ode to Ireland called "OR'."
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran