…thankfully the music herein displays more creativity and imagination than the band name, as tracks like opener ‘One More Turn Of The Wheel’ and ‘Glorious One’ take obvious inspiration from McCarty’s beliefs, with much of the music on the record reflecting the peace and serenity and occasional almost trance-like feel of this philosophy…if you like those original Renaissance and Illusion templates, give this a try…it doesn’t stray to far from that template…
Classic Rock Society (July/August 2017)
It started out as a McCarty solo project – Jane Relf’s vocals are restricted to harmonies, but the dreamy, spiritual otherworldly atmosphere of Illusion remains, whether the floating soundscape of ‘Mystery Of Being’ (which turned up in a louder vein on The Yardbirds’ 2003 return ‘Birdland’), the eastern trills of ‘One More Turn Of The Wheel’ or the title track with its new age synth, this is far more than merely a casual reunion and it’s topped off with a couple of decent previously unheard tracks too.
Record Collector (July 2017)
From start to finish you are taken on a whirlwind tour of the exotic sounds and nuances of musical styles from peoples and cultures around the world. The Angel Air label’s decision to re-release this long unavailable album is to be warmly congratulated. It is captivatingly atmospheric, whisking you away to a decidedly gentler place and what feels like a much kinder space, where you can put aside the worries and complexities of the moment and enjoy the sounds of happier times.
The Progressive Aspect (May 2017)
Having recorded solo albums in the ’90s, Jim McCarty decided in 2000 to form Renaissance Illusion with his former bandmates Jane Relf, Louis Cennamo and John Hawken, who had all been with him in his bands Renaissance and Illusion, to record a new album.
That album was long out of print but now rereleased with two previously unheard bonus tracks – ‘If There Was Something I Could Change?’ and ‘Moving On’.
Bev Bevan, The Sunday Mercury (April 2017)
…meanwhile McCarty made solo albums and in an interview with Radio 68 he calls “Through The Fire” half solo, semi group. ‘Half solo’ because he wrote everything and sings most of the songs, ‘half group’ because he had, in his own words, not only the need for the talent of his old friends but also their ability to provide ‘chemistry’…The result is a piece that I would rather call spiritualistic than prog, also due to the spiritual message of McCarty’s lyrics: the imbalance in the world, the mystery of life (‘Mystery Of Being’), the importance of people with good heart (‘Good Heart’), the wisdom of the master himself (‘Glorious One’) and core elements such as karma and rebirth (‘One More Turn Of The Wheel’, ‘Through the Fire’).
Musically the group finds a nice balance between the atmosphere needed to create such a spiritualist foundation on the one hand and the needs of a progressive rock album on the other. McCarty sings the praises of Louis Cennamo and especially the classically trained pianist Hawken, who then turned a song with two chords to a charming song (‘One More Turn Of The Wheel’). ‘Good Heart’ and the two bonuses certainly provide the necessary rhythm…
Keys and Chords (Translated – April 2017)
…the surviving members of the original Renaissance line-up did reconvene three decades later to record a splendid new album in the shape of ‘Through The Fire.’ As an exercise in melodic soft-rock this tastefully constructed package was well nigh faultless, with ‘One More Turn Of The Wheel’ and ‘Mystery Of Being’ emerging as two and the stand-out tracks.
Kevin Bryan, Regional Newspapers (April 2017)
As with most of this version of Renaissance (and Illusion), the basis of this album may be more song based than many will expect, memorable and gently hook laden choruses sticking long in the mind as the likes of “Good Heart”, “Glorious One” and “My Old Friend” play out. The latter a beautifully poised selection that conveys loss and time passing in a cleverly accessible manner, even as its pace refuses to rise above an engaging crawl. With “Beyond The Day” a gentle sway that incorporates pipes and whistle and “Through The Fire” almost a casual jaunt that possesses a decided glint in its eye, while this album could never be seen as anything other than reserved and controlled, it is somehow surprisingly diverse. This Angel Air reissue adds two previously unheard bonus selections in the shape of “If There Was Something I Could Change?” and “Moving On”, which thankfully don’t break the album’s spell, fitting the mood and atmosphere perfectly. As such they are both welcome additions and, rather pleasingly, just as good as anything the original release contained.
They may have been overshadowed by the band they formed and then left behind and their reappearance as Illusion. However, with this solitary album Renaissance Illusion created a worthy legacy of their own and one that in this hectic world provides an excellent opportunity to slow down and relax with some beautifully poised and memorable music.
Sea Of Tranquility (April 2017)