Thursday, 19 March 2009

Sarah Brightman: Dive (1993)

The 1993 album Dive marks musical diva Sarah Brightman's major entry into the arena of Adult Contemporary soft pop. As the first of her thematic albums - followed by La Luna and Harem - Dive is focused on the briny depths of the ocean deep.

In the soundscape she crafts, however, these depths are less in the way of briny than they are a haunting earthbound celestial sphere. The album opens with whalesong set against the narrative theme: that when this blue planet is viewed from space, it appears to be the territory of whales rather than humanity. It then goes on, in musical fashion, to explore humanity's romance with this liquid space.

The first single is a cover of Krister Linder's Captain Nemo, originally performed by his project Dive. It is difficult to say if the tribute is as complete as it seems, but there may be little reason to doubt it. Nevertheless, the song is not an explicit narrative about Verne's mariner, and thankfully so. Sometimes such songs can come off terribly contrived. Nevertheless, there are certainly the occassional Harper Goff references in the course of the music video.

Captain Nemo is followed by such pop-heavy tracks as Second Element, Ship of Fools, Once in a Lifetime and a cover of Procol Harum's Salty Dog. The odd sample is thrown into the mix, such as Cape Horn's use of a clip from Mutiny on the Bounty describing humanity's tempestuous relationship with the sea. If there is any major fault with Dive, it is that it is dominated by such soft pop rather than enjoying the refined mix of styles in Brightman's later albums. On this account it isn't as strong or as varied as La Luna, which may very well be her best album.

Yet it still conveys its atmosphere and theme quite well within those confines. Following Salty Dog, it picks up again with the whalesong Siren leading into the gentle and operatic Seven Seas, which is certainly one of the better tracks on the whole album, if not the best (with apologies to Captain Nemo). Whalesong nuances introduce another movement of pop songs starting with Sandra cover Johnny Wanna Live, By Now, Island, When it Rains in America and La Mer, concluded by an acoustic reprise of The Second Element.

As noted, Dive is not Sarah Brightman's strongest work. That would be reserved for more refined later albums like La Luna and Harem. If one is a Brightman fan, however, this is certainly a worthwhile addition to her trilogy of thematic albums.


Robert Saint John said...

I've had the CD since it came out, and I haven't heard or thought of this song in years. Wife hits me when I listen to SB, so I had to sneak pull "Dive" back out. I forgot how powerful it was, especially Nemo. Had to believe... 16 years?? Also, I had *no* idea about other versions of this song (by Dive and Cecilia Vennersten). Thanks so much for the heads up on that, and this post overall!

Cory Gross said...

Thank you for reading and commenting! Good luck with sneaking in those Brightman CDs!

Anonymous said...

Dive is certainly a very worthwhile album. It turns out that I actually prefer Dive slightly to La Luna, however my favorite of all is Harem.

Anthony Morelli said...

If my wife hit me each time I played dive, I would divorce

my ex actually told me not to go see sarah when she came to montreal for her " one night in Eden" tour
and I stayed home