Dusted - Safe From Harm

This album is many things, a collaboration between Rollo (keyboard player in Faithless) and Mark Bates who together produced, wrote and programmed the majority of the tracks; a soundtrack to the illustrations by Jason White soon to be published; or a concept album exploring the fascination of fairy tales. Which ever way you take it, it's certainly a risky ambitious project, one which I appreciated.

"Always Remember To" features the beautiful voice of a young choir boy, star of the future, Alan Young. The strings are played by the Sloveniatta Okestra with the leader Herman Capaldi, but they're all arranged and conducted by Mark Bates who manages to make it touching, atmospheric and unusual but very accessible. With the addition of percussion and lushly played synths this is amazingly subtle yet surprisingly expansive. "Biggest Fool In The World" has a storytelling spoken word narration like a more cohesive and sober Arab Strap being asked to read a fairy tale to impressionably young children. The inclusion of ambient synths and brass interludes are soothing and lull you gently into the magical world Dusted inhabit. Who can argue the beautiful sentiments of this track when the words are "feel my heart with love".

"Winter" is the sound of nature slowly coming to life. This sees Dusted bring a more stripped down sound to the album with Rollo's sister, the Queen of Suburban music, Dido deliver a superb vocal. Her inner rage is unleashed when she sings "like paper it's ripped apart", a metaphor for a broken heart perhaps. This track is a slow burner, but be patient, the use of piano and strings could charm the birds out of the tree.

"Under The Sun" is more commercial. Regular singer in Dusted, Luke Garwood, comes across like a refugee from Alabama 3 with his booming deep voice on a jaunty song which features Eastwood Chorale directed by Ian Walker and the line "Good Morning to a smashing afternoon" which doesn't actually make sense, but who cares when the results are this rewarding.

"Safe From Harm" by Dusted is as far removed as you can imagine from Faithless and is a real curate's egg of an album unlike anything you'll have heard. Ingenious, eccentric and extremely charming.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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