(2019 - Art Of Music - Germany)
It is not my imagination that each Isgaard album gets more gorgeous than the last one. This, the 8th release by this vocalist/lyricist/pianist, stands above all the previous works, and that is saying something. 'Human' is breathtaking and a treasure to behold. The odds of such perfect and stellar chemistry to be gathered together on a musical project is often illusive. But with Isgaard handling the lead vocals, her partner Jens Lueck ( on keyboards, some vocals, drums, percussion, programming, additional guitar, producer of the entire thing, who also recorded, mixed, and mastered it...wrote every song - with co-writing on some tracks). That alone brings about magic. Add Jan Petersen (electric guitars), Ekiss Giloc (bass), Katja Flintsch (violin, viola), Annika Stolze (violincello), Volker Kuinke (recorders - who is also the main person behind Syrinx Call, and plays on Single Cell Organism - both of which Jens Lueck displays more of his skills on), and Klaus Volland (acoustic guitars). The one person missing is their dear friend and former guitarist Dieter Koch, who passed away in December 2018, and who they dedicated track #2 to ('I Couldn't Say Goodbye').
For those who have heard Isgaard before, be assured this will not only please your ears, but stir something in your soul and mind. The shades of Kate Bush, Sally Oldfield, Candice Night (Blackmore's Night), and that ilk of singer, are only suggested comparisons, as Isgaard Marke sustains her own identity with the velvet rose voice, which is gifted with such a smooth sensuous and dreamy character. To try and pick favorite cuts is tough, as all eight are of equal quality. The subject matter covers modern issues such as climate change, our shortcomings, violence, and emotional voids that take place in all our lives at some time or another. Track #8 is a 3-part masterpiece ('Borders') which is also the most progressive rock oriented. It is the one piece that features Jens on lead vocals which I have said before, he has a superb voice as well. The most exciting drums exist on this same suite, with lots of fanfare and even mellotron, giving the listener a large dose of epic level euphoria.
Just before that huge ending, there is the gorgeous 'Frozen Heart' (track #7), that will melt your spine with the stunning orchestrations. That song is truly as beautiful as beautiful can get. The piano and Isgaard's vocal part is just unbearably alluring. I will need two pages this year to hold all the TOP CHOICES of 2019, because here is yet another addition to the list. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 10 - 18 - 2019