Promise of Redemption - When the Flowers Bloom...
Record Label: I Surrender Records
Release Date: December 4, 2007 (Digital), January 22, 2008 (Physical)
Simplicity is bliss. There is no need for any sugar coating or extras. When done correctly, the most beautiful things in life are simple. Baseball is simple. Much of Picasso's artwork is simple. Love is simple. People often get lost in complexity, completely forgetting about the focus and purpose of their work. There is nothing more enjoyable (and at the same time, upsetting) than sitting down and listening to 13 well written songs that a young man has put his heart and soul into.
When the Flowers Bloom... is a solo acoustic album written, produced and performed by Shane Henderson (lead singer of Valencia) and is the follow up to work Lights That Flicker Will Surely Fade. All thirteen songs are written for and dedicated to Henderson's girlfriend, Dana Leigh Burrell, who passed away after a freak accident. From what I've read, this record was never intended to be released. However after realizing how much these songs helped him cope with tragedy, Henderson decided to release the album in hopes of aiding in the resoution of other peoples' miseries. I can't help but think that When the Flowers Bloom... has done just that.
Before diving into the analysis of individual songs, it is important to point out that this album is not background music. True appreciation of When the Flowers Bloom... can only be achieved by sitting down by yourself and listening. I myself find myself only putting this record on when I have time to listen to it in its entirety. I see it as a musical scrapbook of his memories of the late Dana Burrell. A scrapbook from infancy all the way up to the funeral.
"Getting Through" starts the album off on a chilling note, bringing in excerpts and samples from many of the songs on the album. It is very tough to describe and must be experienced first hand. Although only forty-six seconds long, it sets the tone for the whole album. Next, "How Fast" begins and instantly clicks because of its good lyrics and strong chorus. "From the Second I Wake Up" would be considered the single of the album, and for good reason. I must say that even though it was written before Burrell's passing, it is one of the most depressing songs on the record.
"Dana baby girl you've got me missing you all day long From the second I wake up to the second my day is done With every breath I take in Ill swear on every inch of my lungs I'm with you"
After hundreds of listens, "Oh the Way" seems to be a song about a memorable night making love with Ms. Burrell. It is a beautifully put together song. For any fans of Valencia's "Where Did You Go?" that haven't heard of Promise of Redemption, "Remember the First Day" is a "must listen". Much of the bridge and pre-chorus melody in "Where Did You Go?" were borowed from "Remember the First Day." The title track follows, and the emotion and sincerity is evident in every line and chord.
By this point, I am deeply disturbed, but also hypnotically engrossed. I can't get out of the mood that Henderson's deeply moving songs have put me in. Now that is art.
"Live in Love" makes me cry. There is almost nothing more that I can say about my favorite song on the record. Henderson's vocals are filled with such sorrow and angst that it becomes nearly impossible to hold back tears. "Rough Roads Lead to the Stars" changes up the whole feel of the record if only for six minutes. There is a very weird eerie vibe in the intro, followed by a chorus with a strange sort of melodic flow.
"Dana Leigh" is a very important track to bring up because it seems to reveal Henderson's acceptance with the tragedy that has so drastically changed his life. However, this attitude quickly changes as Henderson admits to how much he misses, and can't get over Burrell's passing in "It Just Takes Time." Finally, "Trace Those Steps" concludes the album. It is a song about the where he met the love of his life. The song builds very well and ends with a beautiful combination and overlapping background vocals.
Never have I found it so depressing to listen to a record that I cannot personally relate to. I can feel the sincerity in Shane Henderson's voice as he sings about the loss of Dana Leigh Burrell. And while the guitar work may not be perfect, When The Flowers Bloom... looks past it with great lyrics and excellent vocals (both leading and backing). There is nothing simpler or more genuine than a man with a guitar, a voice, and a story to tell. "One thing about the road is that is opens up your eyes"