The name Dave Burn might not be one you instantly recognise. But Paul Raymond fans will know him from the PRP (Paul Raymond Project) 2019 album ‘High Definition’ and maybe even ‘Rewind 50’ in 2014. He was also lead guitarist, for the late U.F.O legend on tour. Dave started playing guitar at the age of twelve and after leaving school put all his passion into building a career in music. Based in the North East he has devoted his time to writing, teaching and playing live. Apart from the two PRP albums, Dave has released two with his band ‘Nobody’s Fool’ and three with his U.F.O tribute band UUFO and he already has sixteen solo instrumental albums under his belt.
I have known Lee Small for decades, I remember watching him with ‘Pride’ and ‘Native Cain’ at JB’s Dudley back in the day. I even reviewed one of his early gigs and told him back then that he was outstanding. Over the years Lee has also built up a momentous career, with bands like Shy, Lionheart & Skyscraper and has even made guest appearances with Magnum and The Wildhearts. Lee can also be seen playing bass on stage with the 70’s Glam rockers The Sweet !
The first of the Twelve tracks ‘Right Of Passage’ starts off with intermittent pulsating guitar and slowly rises into a sublime riff. Vocals soon appear that are smoothly evocative and the song turns into a dazzling melody. Strong and powerful, the guitar ripples by Dave are offset with Lee’s vocals reaching into heaven and beyond, he hasn’t lost any of his strength, in fact his voice is more controlled and mature these days. ‘Darkest Hour’ has a solemn introduction with deep and moody lyrics. Then a hook kicks in and the track takes off with fret racing between the graceful harmonies. The gentleness of the ballad ‘Into The Light’ is also a chance to hear the clearest of guitar work. You can feel the texture that’s been given, to make this one stand out, as the balance is incredible. At nearly nine minutes in length ‘Labyrinth’ is indeed a journey through a maze, a maze of delights. A piano intro and then crashing and thunderous strings shine on the horizon. The pressure is slowly released and we are taken into another world, full of imposing grandeur and dramatic encounters before a sudden and sharp ending.
‘Hit The Ground Running’ is Dave making his presence felt and he does know how to make that guitar sing. The instrumental is packed with virtuoso licks and throughout the track, you hold your breath while he commands and delivers exceptional and pristine layers. ‘Before You Cry’ takes us back down and we experience more solitary sounds. The seventh number ‘Made Of Stone’ has to be my personal favourite. The returning riff is elementary, yet as it keeps running it starts to enter your head and the ear worm takes hold. Lee stretches his vocal talents to the limit and combined, ‘Made Of Stone’ is truly an encapsulating experience that sums up this partnership. This would be a good choice for a single, as it’s so adhering. ‘Passing Time’ has a guitar solo that screams delightfully during its final chords, this is after we have sampled both bold underlying forces and fervent vocals. The pace quickens with an upbeat tempo on ‘Kick You Upside Down’ faster and more raucous, the release of noise is welcome and this number shows that the duo are capable of just about anything.
‘Always’ is another with a fast flow and catchy rhythm. This is most commercial piece on the album, with a lighter melody but a heavier dulcet and harmonious approach. ‘Understand’ has a galloping introduction that signifies the direction. Lee utters sharp and piercing vocals and another bundle of guitar magic hits, as the song dives into a slower period. Dave certainly handles his axe with perfection as all the elements are brought together, what an excellent track. ‘Boat To Samarkand’ is the second instrumental and a fitting finale. Imagine yourself floating slowly downstream, while enjoying all the pleasurable sounds Dave Burn and Lee Small have to offer.
‘Nothing Is As It Seems’ is the first from Dave Burn to feature vocals and with Lee Small he has produced a partnership that is faultless. It’s unbelievable to realise that this album is just the two of them. If you seek perfection, if you want to be enthralled and if you need a masterclass in musicianship, look no further.
Savour the praise and acclaim that is to follow guys, but please don’t let this be a one off, you are so good together.
‘We are taken into another world, full of imposing grandeur and dramatic encounters’
Highlights – Right Of Passage, Made Of Stone, Understand.
‘Nothing Is As It Seems’ is available from 1/6/21 please visit Dave’s FACEBOOK page for more info and a link to his website which has a selection of short clips from the album. There is also a vast amount of information about Dave with links to his Bio, Gear and Albums.
Track Listing – Right Of Passage , Darkest Hour, Into The Light, Labyrinth, Hit The Ground Running, Before You Cry, Made Of Stone, Passing Time, Kick You Upside Down, Always , Understand, Boat To Samarkand.
Dave Burn – Lyrics & Music, Guitars, Bass, Drum Prog, Keys & Strings.
Lee Small – All Vocals, Additional Lyrics, All Vocal Melodies, Keys & Strings on Darkest Hour.
Engineered and produced by Dave Burn. Mastered and Produced by the renowned Jon Astley. Mastered at Close to the Edge London. Photo credits Erika Wallberg, Emili Muraki, Rich Ward and Gordon Armstrong. Artwork Tristan Greatrex.