Review: Dare – Road To Eden
Legend Records (April 1st, 2022)
Reviewer: David Pearce
Dare are the brainchild of singer and keyboardist Darren Wharton who was previously the keyboardist for Thin Lizzy. The band have been together since 1989 and have forged a reputation for being a creative and powerful AOR outfit who show few signs of stopping more than three decades later. Their new album is called ‘Road to Eden‘.
The first track is ‘Born in the Storm‘ which starts off with an understated and brilliant guitar solo from Vinny Burns that immediately made me sit up and take notice. It then moves into a song that really draws you in lyrically and gives a taste of their combination of melodic rock and storytelling verve. ‘Cradle to the Grave‘ starts off with Wharton’s vocals which are just superb as they spin another story that show his ability to craft a set of lyrics that immediately touch the listener. There are elements of Living Years in this song and I absolutely loved it. Special mention must be made of the subtle but powerful drumming of Kev Whitehead who anchors the song brilliantly. Definitely one of my favourite songs on the album. ‘Fire never Fades‘ starts off with the bass of Nigel Clutterbuck that reminded me of Rainbow in its power and its ability to punch straight into the song. Once again, Wharton’s vocals are simply sublime. The final track of the opening quartet is the title song ‘Road to Eden‘ which has a clear Celtic influence to it, perhaps reflecting their choice of North Wales as their base for recording the album. It is a tune that is anthemic and will be brilliant live for both band and audience.
‘Lovers and Friends‘ starts the next quartet with a song that shows a softer side of the band with a rock ballad that definitely stands up well against other examples of the genre. Wharton doesn’t overdo the lyrics and the subtlety of the delivery and the tune make this a supremely satisfying love song. ‘Only the Good Die Young‘ is a reflection on youth that really nails that time of your life with lyrics that are funny and relatable throughout. Once again, Wharton shows himself to be a brilliant storyteller and is supported by the incredibly tight playing of the band as the keyboards of Marc Roberts, the bass of Clutterbuck, the guitar of Burns, the drumming of Whitehead and of course Wharton’s own delivery. It is just brilliant and it is right up there with ‘Cradle to the Grave‘. ‘Grace‘ has echoes of REO Speedwagon and is a very satisfying piece of music as it builds up slowly and the listener is carried on it like a surfer on a wave. ‘I Always Will‘ has shades of Billy Joel in the vocals and certainly loses nothing by comparison as the band’s tight playing lifts the song up and makes it another excellent track in an album without any weaknesses.
‘The Devil Rides Tonight‘, the penultimate track, may have an Iron Maiden style title but there the similarities end, although it does have a heavier feel to the rest of the tracks. As ever, the melodic elements of the track give Dare their signature sound and they certainly know how to build up the different parts to a very satisfying whole. The final track on the album is ‘Thy Kingdom Come‘ which once again shows off their heavier edge and Wharton’s way with the lyrics which are the real strength of the album.
This is simply one of the most enjoyable sets of rock songs you could wish to hear. It is a glorious album from a band with huge experience and yet a band that sound like they retain the enthusiasm of their earliest days. Dare really earn a place in anyone’s album collection with ‘Road to Eden‘. Watch out for them when they tour later in 2022