[% META title = 'Jon Lord: Pictured Within' %]
Pictured Within-A Review
It's a hard, frustrating business being a Jon Lord fan. For me, more often
than not he's endeavoured not to be the focal point, the star of the band,
but the glue that holds it all together, the discreet, distinguishing touch
that really makes Deep Purple what it is. His contributions to the band have
often been of the "less is more" variety, his solos on tour are shorter
(but oh, so sweeter), and his solo albums have a tendency of appearing
decades, rather than years apart. Good thing they are good, huh?
Astonishingly good, as is the case here.
"Pictured Within" took 16 years to follow "Before I Forget", and if ever there was an album worth waiting 16 years for, this is it. I have often had visions (a Purple fanatic's version of a wet dream) of Jon Lord playing piano in a classical music auditorium, no electric instruments in sight, just some strings and perhaps a few horns. A choir, and perhaps a couple of solo vocalists. Well, this is it! It's not live in an auditorium, but the living room will have to do for now (how about a tour, Jon?). Pictured Within is, in a word, exquisite. It's Jon Lord the Musician (no adjective before the noun, and a capital "M", thank you very much), the composer, the arranger, it's Jon Lord the man who can write melodies that are memorable, moving, simple and complex at the same time, melodies and tunes that convey a sense of being places, seeing images, feeling things. Hell, it's the Jon Lord you and I know from "Sarabande", only Pictured Within could well be better than that masterpiece from 1977. This is no spur-of-the-moment statement, this is the distillation of months' listening to it. Yeah, it does grow on you.
In the current musical climate, the most approximate point of comparison would be what folks call "new age", but that term has been host to so much bland, soulless music that it wouldn't be fair. Just as a point of reference, though, it will have to do. The title track, sung by Miller Anderson, is an incredibly moving piece of work, and Sam Brown's two vocal contributions are simply divine. The girl can definitely sing. I find myself, though, going back to the instrumental pieces, of which the entire "Part 4" is possibly Jon Lord's most accomplished achievement.
Look, nothing I can tell you can prepare you for "Pictured Within". The album needs to be listened to of an evening, in a cozy, warm setting with possibly a glass of red wine (the maestro's own suggestion :-) to really appreciate it. Trust me, it will be a rewarding experience and a lasting pleasure. I just hope it won't be our lot for another sixteen years, though... ;-)
Stathis N. Panagiotopoulos