Downes Braide Association - Skyscraper Souls - 2017
“... We’re mountain climbers ... You and I ...”
The abbreviation DBA stands for Downes Braide Association, a project by Geoff Downes and Chris Braide. This is their 3rd collaboration and follows their two previous releases “Pictures of You” (2012) and “Surburban Ghosts” (2015). Both members have an extensive portfolio. The prog scene knows Geoff Downs as the keyboard player of the bands The Buggles, Asia and Yes. Chris Braide is a British singer, songwriter and producer, now based in L.A. , who has written and produced songs for several Pop artists. This third DBA album is entitled “Skyscraper Souls” And has been released on their own label X2X Records and is distributed by Cherry Red Records. Prog lovers will recognize the artist who is responsible for the artwork of the cover, his name is Roger Dean.
Christopher Braide - lead vocals, piano, keyboards, programming; Geoffrey Downes - vocoder, piano, keyboards, programming
Ash Soan - drums, percussion; Andy Hodge - bass guitars; Dave Colquhoun - lead guitars; Andy Partridge - background vocals, lead and acoustic guitars, mandolin, sleigh bells; Marc Almond - lead vocals on Skin Deep; Kate Pierson - vocals on Skyscraper Souls; David Longdon - vocals and flute on Tomorrow; Patrick Howley - lead guitar solo on Angel on your shoulder; Matthew Koma - vocals on Angel on your shoulder; Tim Bownes - background vocals on Lighthouse; Barney Ashton Bullock - narrator; Elijah and Sascha Braide - vocals; Matt Bourne Jones - trumpet
The album opener is called “Prelude” and features Andy Partridge on guitar. It is a wonderful ballad with delicate sung vocals. A nice opener before you can enjoy the highlight and title track “Skyscraper Souls” which a duration of epic proportions (more than 18 minutes). It features B-52 singer Kate Pierson. This long track is one of the songs that could be interesting for the prog lover. A song with diversity, beautiful keyboard orchestrations and wonderful melodies. And the vocal parts are top notch, but this counts for the whole album.
On the other half of the album you can find the shorter songs “Glacier Girl”, “Angel on your shoulder”, “Tomorrow”, “Lighthouse”, “Skin Deep”, “Darker Times” and “Finale”.
The beautiful sung “Glacier Girl” includes a classical piano on a bed of a delicate keyboard orchestration. “Angel on your Shoulder” features Matthew Koma on vocals and is with it’s catchy vocal refrains more mainstream. “Tomorrow” is more interesting for us prog fans. It features Big Big Train’s David Longdon on vocals and flute. But musically the shorter songs are more AOR oriented. The following track “Lighthouse” features Tim Bowness on backing vocals. Of course Christopher Braide is a great singer but if you can get Tim Bowness on your album why give him only a backing vocals part. Tim Bowness is blessed with one of the finest and most beautiful voices on this planet. I see this as a missed opportunity. But maybe I am too much a Prog boy. We prog fans know the qualities of singers like Tim Bowness and David Longdon. In “Skin Deep” we hear the voice of Marc Almond and the jazzy trumpet of Matt Bourne Jones. Another highlight of this album is the song “Darker Times”. You can find the most beautiful melodies in this beautiful sung ballad. Secretly I imagine that this song was sung by Tim Bowness ... just wondering.
“Skyscraper Souls” was for me a wonderful introduction to the Downes Braide Association of Geoffrey Downs and Christopher Braide. Because of the long title track this album could be interesting for Prog lovers. But in overall the music on this album is more AOR oriented. You can find besides Christopher Braide himself only top notch vocalists on this fine album.