What makes the perpetual search for a new source of musical pleasure such a thrill, is when you land on something with zero background, or any kind of advance notice. Such is my chance meeting on an innocuously dull day with Riversend, absently surfing the proggier waters on the net, and it just appeared out of the blue like a surfacing submarine. This New Jersey duo features Olivia Horovitz on lead vocals, and a splendid voice she certainly has, as well as endowed multi-instrumentalist Zack Miranowic on bass, guitars, and vocals. The tracks are mostly in the 3-to-5-minute length, keeping the attention on the impact level and not feeling the need to stretch anything out, beyond.

From the very first seconds of the majestic opening piece “Dreaming”, that is exactly the state one is flung into as the melancholic melody overwhelms with its radiant beauty. Olivia pleading delivery recalls all the past and current female greats from Annie Haslam to Maggie Reilly to the aptly named Olivia Sparnenn, soothing in the sultry moments and explosive in the agonizing ones.  A sensational first impression. “Withering” is the ideal follow up, providing another tremendous melody and a vocal that scours the astral horizons, Zack not only assuring the instrumental foundation, including a delightful opening violin flurry but adding some perfect backing vocals. Olivia squeezes passion out of every syllable with a crisp mastery that defies description, particularly when she lingers on the higher notes. My knees started to wobble, saved by a liquid guitar solo and a final chorus that settles the score.

Set in more jangly atmosphere, with slight Mid-Eastern feel “Revolution Is My Name”, with a cobra-like slither from the electric guitar and a swerving belly dance vocal that bares the honesty of the performance, neither over the top or measurably prude. Another ethereal highpoint is achieved on the celestial phenomenon that is “Moonlight”, armed with an undulating moody vocal, as well as a scouring yet playful guitar line.  Just plain delicious if you are susceptible to beauty in music. “Phantom” is a literal transition, as the yearning female voice challenges the soothing male version, eventually blending into a parallel duet, a strategically placed piano section arriving most welcome. Fluid twirls on the axe seals the deal. All this gorgeousness is truly irresistible.

Proceeding relentlessly on another plane, the tiny “When All Is Lost” suggests a more relaxed theme, breezy all instrumental foundation with sweetness and pastoral feel, as both electric and acoustic guitar join the fray. It sets the sights on the ‘epic’ longer and final piece, “Dead and Gone” , launched by a mellotron cascade and an expertly woven guitar riff that stuns by its crisp simplicity, a sorrowful duet with both voices ‘washed away from the storm, like the sun rising up from the dark’.

I enjoyed this debut immensely, but I perceived the album structurally as one entire 25-minute suite to satisfy my prog leanings. I suggest this band to consider expanding their craft by stretching out their arrangements because the hard part is already well taken care of, what with both the voice and the instruments being top notch. When a new artist is able to dish out such fine melodies, THAT is an achievement by itself and bodes very well for the future. Evocative cover art to boot.

4 deltas