The new album by Cameron Blake is titled Fear Not. It is a wide-ranging second album release from a trained musician and equally talented lyricist with the wise judgment to surround himself with sympathetic collaborators. There are nearly fifty additional musicians appearing over the course of Fear Not’s twelve songs and the reality that he has emerged with a truly cohesive collection sharing a common theme despite such a vast cast of supporting players testifies to the clarity of Blake’s artistic vision.
These are songs that know exactly where they are going and what they want to accomplish – a doubly remarkable feat considering the heavy themes that he tackles from an assortment of points of view. Fear Not deals squarely and creatively with the subject of fear and its effect on human lives. It never comes across in a heavy-handed or self-indulgent way. Blake keeps his songs focused and shorn of any excess verbiage or instrumentation and rounds off the presentation with warm and eloquently rendered production.
The title song makes an impact thanks to its sophisticated feel and the lyrical depth. Despite the musical excellence, however, the thing that puts it over so strongly, in the end, is Blake’s singing. He embodies such distinct human sensitivities in the manner he pursues the phrasing and lyrical content of this number, but he also distinguishes himself because of how he clearly tailors his singing to the musical backing.
“After Sally” takes a shuffle tempo and keeps it as a ghostly presence for another Blake vocal to confidently glide over and his penchant for lyrics laden with significant detail comes to the forefront with this song. “The Only Diamond” is another track with a brisk pace, but it shifts gears more than “After Sally” and has an even stronger narrative quality. Blake’s singing serves as a sort of quasi-narration for this short story in song and inspires confidence in listeners from the first. The presence of classical influences and strings comes through most strongly, to this point, on the track “Fool’s Gold” and it pushes Blake to offer up one of the album’s most impassioned numbers.
The beautiful voice and piano of Cameron Blake is here
“Tiananmen Square” shares that distinction as well. This is another song where Blake is content to develop the musical arrangement in a patient, considered manner that makes for a greater climax for listeners. The lyrical content, as well, will have a familiar denouement for anyone familiar of the history behind the character in the song and the song title, but even those ignorant of the historical facts driving this track will find it rewarding, especially musically. “Moonlight on a String” is one of the album’s low key jazz-influenced numbers heavy on atmosphere, much of it suggested merely by the spaces in the music. It has the same meditative flavor setting a number of the other tracks apart thanks to the suggestion of the poetic that it carries with it.
“Sandtown” is a muscular number late in the album’s track listing and may surprise some with its emphatic power while the finale “Monterey Bay” encompasses many of the album’s strengths, particularly Blake’s voice and lyrics, to spectacular effect. This is a release reeking of ambition, but it more than meets the audience halfway and doesn’t serve up anything an attentive listener can’t handle. Cameron Blake is a special writer and performer and justice means this new album will get the massive attention it rightly deserves.