Dare - Sacred Ground

Dare Sacred Ground cover
Sacred Ground
Legend Records
Dare have just released another album – their 8th studio release (well technically 7th proper and original album – if one discards the re-recording of “Calm Before the Storm”).
While I love the band’s style and especially enjoy the guitar playing of Vinny Burns, this album is the second in a row that really fails to break new ground, with the band seemingly “trapped” in a velvety AOR prison of their own design. Darren Wharton, famous for being for the last few years and three albums with the legendary Thin Lizzy whom he joined at the tender age of eighteen, has crafted an epic AOR sound over the past four albums with tons of celtic overtones that he sings to perfection with his smooth and soothing voice, but somehow the melodies are becoming a little too predictable over all this time, the style a little stale, with few surprises.
I love the band, to the point of considering their first four of their releases to be perfect “10s” but I can’t turn a blind eye and say that this is on par with them. It’s stylistically similar to the last three but the production is progressively weaker sounding, with the drums especially sounding a little thinner on this particular album. There’s still some excellent tunes, like the sentimentally charged “I’ll Hear You Pray”, or the equally beautiful “Strength”, where Vinny shines with an amazing lead, “Days of Summer” that does allude a bit to early Dare, in a way, I wouldn’t mind seeing resurrected. “Like the First Time” is a bittersweet number about getting out of a relationship and wondering what went wrong, a pretty easy theme to relate to, I guess… or the closing tune “Along the Heather” that’s similar lyrically to the opening tune “Home”, but a lot more charged emotionally and not vainly trying to sound commercial like it’s counterpart…
Still a great release, by an amazing band, but I’d like to see them able to play to their absolute strengths on their next release, rather than regurgitating on their recent past while resting on their laurels that their status affords them. With love and always respectfully...