UK band PAUL DUNTON ORCHESTRA has been active since at least 2008, and from what I can see they have a few EPs to their name in addition to this one album, “Clearly Invisible”, which was first released back in May 2017 and which has been sold at the band’s gigs since then. The album was scheduled for an official release this fall, but as this hasn’t been formally announced, at least on the band’s Facebook page, and that the album cannot be found commercially for sale by any vendors, I presume that this process has been somewhat postponed at this stage. Hence I’ll regard this album as self-released as far as this review goes.
That being said, it is quite a nice album we have here, and one with a style not all that many pursue these days, at least to my knowledge. The basic foundations for the majority of the songs here appears to be a pop/rock oriented variety of acoustic singer/songwriter types of compositions, most of them with the acoustic guitar as the main instrument, with a few cases of the piano ballad making out the core foundation instead. Vocals are provided by male and female vocalists, with quite a few examples of dual vocals as well as lead vocals and support vocals rather than what would typically be described as backing vocals. The rhythm section, when present, tends to be relatively unobtrusive.
But the aspect of these compositions that is rather more striking is that just about all of the songs are given orchestral arrangements. Gliding, orchestra strings with careful flute elements appear to be the main variety applied throughout, in careful as well as more powerful overlays. Sometimes in a more sparse, chamber music like manner, at other times with more of a full orchestra feel to them. Individual instruments in the orchestra are given their occasional moments to deliver more impactful details as well. Sometimes an ever-present element of the songs, on other occasions used more sparingly, this addition to the songs does give them something of a soundtrack like quality, in addition to obviously being music that can be referred to and described as orchestral rock music.
What sets this band apart from quite a few others described in a similar manner is that, at least as far as I can tell, this is a band that doesn’t have any pretensions of heading into progressive rock territories. This is fairly straight forward singer/songwriter material with added orchestral arrangements. No less and no more.
It is not a blend I have encountered all that often, and while I do feel that a few of the songs doesn’t really manage to gel the contrasting styles all that well, a surprising amount of the songs actually strikes me as being rather more intriguing with the orchestral additions than they would have been without them.
“Clearly Invisible” strikes me as an interesting album. Just how large the possible audience is for this kind of music is not something I can readily predict, but from my point of view at least there are numerous songs here that should strike home with a more mainstream oriented crowd. Those with a certain affection for singer/songwriter types of artists that also find vintage soundtrack music and classical orchestra music to be intriguing would probably be how I would define the target audience for this album.
My rating: 70/100
1. Give Me a Reason
3. My Emmeline
4. Don’t Forget
6. All That You Are
7. Body Clock
8. Train of Thought
9. Open Space
14. Bravest Truth