Music can work on so many different levels and The Best Of All Possible Worlds, a concept album by Bath based musician Now Voyagers (Kim Green) does exactly that. You can play to it as a charming album of very good music, or you can study it and get so much more. Even the title has a meaning. “The Best Of All Possible Worlds” is a phrase from German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz coined in 1710. He was trying to reconcile how God could allow evil but came to the conclusion that wrongdoing is the simple absence of doing right, of letting things slide. That’s the basis for this concept album; where humanity has come from, what it’s doing to the world and where it’s going. There are also numerous references to the Voyager spacecraft which puts us in a much bigger Universe of which our world is only a tiny part, but the best we have at the moment.
Opening the album ‘Prelude: Silent Spring’ sets the tone. Everything is ephemeral and easily lost, including people and the environment. We could be heading for a silent spring, as Rachel Carson imagined, and everything we cherish could go. Kim picks a delicate guitar with an overlay of synth and sings in a gentle voice with a sense of regret. ‘This Is Not Bedford Falls’ draws on another image, this time a comparison to Frank Capra’s ‘Wonderful Life’. Unlike the film, however, there’s no guardian or “Disneygirl smiles” to save us so we have to create it ourselves. This track is fuller than the previous. Kim was able to bring in local musicians, who’re all very good, but Sarah Mitchell-Rogers deserves a mention for her sensitive violin backing.
With a concept album picking the tracks can be difficult. All are good and worthy of a place but one of the many things I liked about this piece is that they link in various ways to make a related whole. Ten of the twelve tracks are written by Kim. One exception is ‘Wayfaring Stranger’, very well known but not presented here as a straight cover. Kim makes it his own by playing it in a more lively way and again the violin supports the picked guitar well. The idea of a wayfarer, a traveller, forms a thread through many of the pieces. ‘Seven Stars (Maia’s Lullaby)’ is a gentle piece of sleeping through the night under the seven stars – The Pleiades – which will be your guide and guardian. That motif is picked up again in ‘So, Now Voyager’ where the stars are also a guide for a spacecraft which in itself is a wandering stranger in the cosmos.
The Best Of All Possible Worlds is, surprisingly, the first music Kim has produced since entering the UK Songwriting Contest in 2004 where he reached the finals. Lockdown spurred him on to pick up his pen, in itself a education as he moved from analogue 4-track to software. Being in isolation meant he had to reach out to other musicians and he has chosen well. Sarah Mitchell-Rogers has already been mentioned but amongst the many others Beth Bastow and James Warren on vocals stand out as do the flutes of Trevor Furness and Catherine Hurley.
There’s a lot to recommend on this album, which opens up the more it’s listened to. It has a broad canvas and Kim’s ability as a writer and arranger means that each piece has its own sound within the overall whole. It’s also a very honest piece of work that steers a course between the doom and gloom of environmental crisis and the hope that we can, working together, create a better world that isn’t perfect, and never will be, but is best we have. As the final track ‘Postscript: Where We Are Now Voyager‘ says “So hand in hand we rise, As night slips in to day, And all lost voices of the World return to say, See My True Colours.”
Artist’s website: https://nowvoyagers.bandcamp.com
‘Seven Stars (Maia’s Lullaby)’ – official video:
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