Mentioning Jeff Buckley in a review tends to incite the same reaction as playing ‘Stairway To Heaven’ did in Wayne’s World but with Roo Panes, unlike almost anyone else, the reference is justified and appropriate. A listen to opening track ‘A Message to Myself’ reveals emotional, soaring vocals and an aching falsetto that that tear at your heart, powerful lyrics that move you and that almost impossibly overwhelming sense of anguish that Buckley captured so well and Panes does equally, with perhaps less anguish but, whisper it softly, more depth.
The following ‘My Sweet Refuge’ is almost too intense in its profession of need and love. Tender, meditative, gorgeous, and, yes, life-affirming, it is hugely powerful testimony to the power of love, hope and a belief in the future. Indeed, these are themes that recur throughout the album, from the chorus in Ophelia ‘when I see you I see hope’ to the stately title track avowing that ‘I’ll be there beside you’. The instrumentation is beautiful – the keys on ‘Warrior’ being particularly notable – and while the album as a whole may be a little one-paced it’s uniformly beautiful and moving.