Paul Anderson, The High Summit. Album Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

It is the moment of high praise when listening to a set of instrumental songs on an album, that the person being serenaded by just sound can reflect on more than just colours, the shapes of aural description and the repose of the strings and brass offered; it is the highest of accolades when that music stirs the imagination and words flow invisibly, like ripples of poetry, down through each instrument and every bar.

Paul Anderson’s The High Summit is that praise personified, aided by Ali Napier, Tony Mcmanus, Ale Carr, Malcolm Jones, Shona Donaldson and James Gorgan, the moments of peaks are long and beautiful, like a mountain range in the distance that both scares you because of its power and dominance over the landscape but also thrills you, urges you to seek an audience with the snow covered peak and the chance to look across creation with fresh, optimistic eyes.

The High Summit for the most part is purely instrumental and it is in those melodious greetings that the album is paced and yet when there is a voice in the interlude, it is as if a bridge has placed down before the listener, one in which the mountain realises it is required to law down a pass, a comforting, yet spectral pathway in which to remind all that range of peaks that often disappear behind fine mist, is always accessible with the right peace of mind and respect.

In Shona Donaldson’s vocals, the haunting of the mountain is evident, not just audibly poetic but sensual, the calling out of those forgotten who live in the mountain’s shadow but who seek shelter in its range; the combination of the music and the occasional voice is a reminder that without either, the mind is liable to stagnate, to fester in the valleys below and never venture to see what lays beyond those misty mountains.

In tracks such as The Rose of Glen Dovan, Corporal Hare of the Royal Marines, The Mar Gathering, The Bonnie Banks o’ Dee and Balmoral, the summit is conquered, and through the mist there is seen beauty and resilience, a passion of exquisite taste.

The High Summit is an album of expressive love, of memory for a place called home and the height of aural pleasure.


Ian D. Hall