Legend or idol, pinup girl or actress, Marilyn Monroe has become an iconic figure in American (and international) culture. UK melodic prog rockers Saracen paint a portrait of her in their latest release simply titled Marilyn. The band uses both music and lyric to display more the character and conflicts of her live, rather than specific events. (However, they offer some strangely morose intrigue by speculating on some relationship between the assassination of JFK and Monroe.) They are helped in this adventure by, appropriately, some female singers including newcomer Issa (solo album, Sign of Angels), but mostly by American singer Robin Beck. FM vocalist Steve Overland duets with her on Who Am I.
Typical of Saracen, Marilyn begins big with instrumental Norma Jeane, a grand and lush arrangement which includes saxophone. This instrument, which can add marvelous character and flavor to a song, returns on Hold On. What follows on this work is varied, but marked always by Saracen's deft use of melody, harmony, and hooks in every arrangement. Make This Body Work and Who Am I are solid rockers with Robin Beck securely at the helm. Love Like a Razorblade tones things down a bit, yet offers strong guitar and blues feel. Feel Like Going Home offers Beck's soaring vocals again over lush keyboards, bass and drums with a moderate pace and a melancholy feel (certainly reflecting the lyrics). It's a great song, but could have been made even better by the addition of saxophone. A final mention to the last song, Marilyn finds Beck lighting over piano, but soon turns to Saracen's signature symphonic rock.
So it goes with Marilyn as every song is magical and entertaining. I wouldn't expect anything less from this talented band. While I don't share the interest or fondest for Marilyn Monroe (I never thought she was pretty or could act) that Saracen may have, a fan of the band and melodic prog rock should scoop up this fine album. Strongly recommended.