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Editors’ Notes

Novella provides a bridge between the prog-rock complexity of its predecessor, Scheherazade and Other Stories, and the pop-prog crossover A Song for All Seasons. Scheherazade contained some of the most musically challenging work Renaissance had done up to that point, and there are echoes of that approach here. The grandeur and scope of the album's orchestral-rock opener, "Can You Understand," and the epic journey of the closing cut, "Touching Once (Is So Hard to Keep)," bookend Novella with the kind of classically influenced flavor that earned Renaissance their reputation. But between those two bookends, the band foreshadow the more pop-savvy, radio-friendly sound that would soon make A Song for All Seasons their most successful album ever. Led by Annie Haslam's gossamer vocals and Michael Dunford's folky acoustic guitar strumming, "Midas Man" leans in a distinctly accessible direction despite timpani and synth flourishes, and the plaintive vocal-and-piano ballad "The Captive Heart" is more Judy Collins than Jethro Tull.

Customer Reviews

Listen to the music

Sisters is probably one of the most profound songs to come from a group who produced thoughtful music in general. Far from being a throw-away album, I would consider this one essential to anyone who appreciates Renaissance.

Highly Recommended

Renaissance fans were no doubt expecting a whopping followup to Sheherazade, but instead got Novella...a fine effort but clearly not the group's best work. Nonetheless, there are two outstanding gems on this release: Can You Hear Me, and Midas Man. Each song is brilliant, and the musicianship is terrific. The 12-string refrain on Midas Man, alone, is worth the price of admission.

Better then Sheherazade

Not that the former was bad by any means, but Novella simply does it for me. "Can You Hear Me" is a gem of melody, flowing perfectly into "The Sisters," perhaps Annie's most moving vocals since "The Harbour," and makes the hairs on my arm stand. Not a flawed song on the album. (Incidentally, the lone acoustic guitar passage in "Can You Hear Me" sounds something like a precursor to, of all things, the ending guitar passage from Pearl Jam's "Jeremy." Hmmm...


Formed: 1969 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

The history of Renaissance is essentially the history of two separate groups, rather similar to the two phases of the Moody Blues or the Drifters. The original group was founded in 1969 by ex-Yardbirds members Keith Relf and Jim McCarty as a sort of progressive folk-rock band, who recorded two albums (of which only the first, self-titled LP came out in America, on Elektra Records) but never quite made it, despite some success on England's campus circuit. The band went through several membership...
Full Bio
Novella, Renaissance
View In iTunes
  • $6.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Prog-Rock/Art Rock
  • Released: 1977

Customer Ratings