Imagine sinking into a warm, luxurious bath full of silky, caressing bubbles while, around you, sweetly scented candles gently illuminate the room with a soft, orange light.

That right there is the best metaphor I can come up with to describe Liv Kristine’s singing voice. It’s a voice that beguiles and seduces, and it’s one of the many aspects that makes this release so special.

Have Courage Dear Heart is Liv’s first record since 2014’s Vervain, a magnificent album and a hard act to follow. But follow it she does, because HCDH is a stunner.

The opening track, Serenity, reassures us that a global pandemic has done nothing to dim Liv’s song-writing skills, which are as strong and confident as ever. It’s a gothic-tinged masterpiece with rich, atmospheric arrangements and an irresistibly catchy chorus, setting the mood beautifully for the rest of the record.

Next up is the title track which bewitches with its sumptuous melody and lyrics, and third track Skylight is a powerhouse of a song that allows Liv to unleash the full potential of her incredible vocal range.

Fourth track Gravity is a personal favourite. In contrast to the song that precedes it, it’s delicate and intimate, like having someone whispering gently into your ear. Beautiful.

This is followed by Skylight Cathedral, a gorgeous stripped-down voice-and-piano arrangement of track three. With a completely different feel from the ‘original’ version, it stands as a worthy companion without any feeling of repetition. Just brilliant.

Side 2 (if you’re a vinyl-lover, that is) features five songs recorded live at Nagold in 2019. Present here are versions of the aforementioned Skylight and Gravity, along with Panic (from Liv’s 2012 album Libertine) and Siren (from the Theatre of Tragedy album Aégis). All sound amazing with a great backing band and a superb mix, but my the highlight for me is Liv’s rendition of Ave Maria, which is where the power and majesty of her voice is revealed to full effect.

So, if sumptuously-produced, gothic-tinged rock is your thing (and why on earth wouldn’t it be?), be kind to yourself and buy this record. I can heartily recommend it.

Oh, and one more thing. It’s best listened to while relaxing in a nice, warm bubble bath.

Have Courage Dear Heart is available now on CD and vinyl from HMV, Amazon, Plastic Head Distribution, Nuclear Blast etc.

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Published by Richard E. Rock

Cat-loving, headbanging author of the dark and fantastical.

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