When Michael Dunford passed away after a cerebral hemorrhage in his England home last November, the loss to his band Renaissance was devastating. He had been its guitarist since 1970, and eventually took over as its principal composer, as well.
Luckily for fans of his music, however, Dunford had finished writing all of the music for Renaissance’s long-awaited forthcoming release Grandine il Vento, and had tracked in all of his guitar parts, as well. With lyrics from fellow Renaissance stalwart Annie Haslam, and arrangements from the entire band, Renaissance will move forward with its first studio effort since a one-off release in 2001.
Before that, the group hadn’t issued an album since 1983.
“Cry to the World” offers a brief glimpse into what’s to come on this, Dunford’s valedictory — and perhaps Renaissance’s, as well. The song, shared via SoundCloud, arrives as Haslam is auditioning touring guitarists to replace Dunford, but it’s unclear what his suddenly departure means in terms of future original material for the group.
For now, we have “Cry to the World,” a gently uplifting track featuring diaphanous turns by both Haslam and Dunford, as well as a fluttering, sweetly conveyed interlude from flautist Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull fame. Rather than reflecting the sweeping anguish that so quickly enveloped this only-recently-reunited group’s fanbase, the track holds a message of peace and, ultimately, of closure.
“Cry to the World” is as gorgeous as I expected it to be sad.