We return to Mark Abel’s lyrics in this set. He didn’t originally intend these four songs to stand as a formal cycle – yet, like an actual rainbow, the thematic “colors” both contrast and complement each other. There is a palpable unity in terms of optimistic sentiment, lyrical expression, melodic tone and pianistic language. And as the composer puts it, “All of them share dreamy qualities and bursts of kinetic energy.” They combine to end the album on a cohesive and positive note.
“It Was An Evening” is an idyll of idealized love – of the giddy and unblemished sort that permeates initial infatuation and the process of falling in love. It overflows with fantasy-infused natural metaphors and celestial symbolism. The singer rhapsodizes about the couple’s certain future together: “… one day a boat will carry us laughing … to the Sea of Tranquility.” The piano part helps to evoke wonder and images of beauty at every turn.
That one dovetails nicely into “Breezes Blow and Eagles Fly,” a look at a romantic relationship nurtured in nature’s bosom long ago. Yet the lovers – “too strong for each other” – soon drift gently apart and begin their separate “walkabouts,” with neither rancor nor the agonies of sudden parting. But it turns out that mutual affection and respect have endured across the years, and the erstwhile partners discover that they can still share friendship now in the same scenic spaces that witnessed its birth. There’s also a pointed dig on behalf of the environment about “… men who will never learn to leave well enough alone.”
A temporary dip into desolation comes with “La Sonnambula” (the sleepwalker). It opens with a bleak and ghostly sense of loneliness and isolation (“I walk through these dead streets forever … “), floating over a stark pianistic bed. Abel says the spooky beginning was inspired by the dialogue-less final sequence of Michelangelo Antonioni’s great early Sixties film “L’Eclisse.”
But redemption and release come over the course of the song as the restorative power of love emerges to set things right again. The singer cautions “it will take a long, long time to make me whole,” but expresses the powerful hope that the lovers’ shared destiny will lead them to the final “door we will walk through together.” The propulsive music makes you believe this is happening in real time.
“The Guest” ends the cycle (and the album) with Abel’s achingly appreciative evocation of an alter ego figure: a friendly phantasm who appears “to set me straight” in times of travail and uncertainty. This better angel helps the singer-narrator to float, unaffected, above the rat race’s “madding crowd” of conformity and hustle – giving welcome assurance, even in the face of the world’s shallow and meaningless trappings, that “you will endure.” The piano accompaniment supports the vocal lines with musings that are alternately dreamy and bustling.
The wide range of Jamie Chamberlin’s vocal artistry is fully on display in “Rainbow.” As Abel says, “Tenderness, elation, nostalgia, disillusion, positive resolve – she had it covered!”