How can mere mortals make such beautiful music? is the question I ask myself every time I listen to “Harbour of Tears”. It is one of those rare albums for which I reserve my 5-star rating. It is a most exquisite concept album that tells the story of an Irish family who emigrates to the U.S. in order to start over - its musical themes are so convincing they manage to convey a nostalgia for places we've never even been to. ‘Harbour of Tears” is also very moody, even more so than “Dust & Dreams”, but that’s what makes it most poignant and exactly the way I like my CAMEL: with full-bodied arrangements and stunningly beautiful melodies.
Although the lyrics set the stage, it is the music that mesmerizes. It starts ever so delicately, with a simple a capella female singing an Irish air, something reminiscent of the eerie soundtrack of the movie ‘Titanic’ (and I don’t mean the Céline Dion tune). Next, the oboe picks up the theme and then LATIMER’s guitar, the keyboards and the rest of the band step in, giving the album its first full CAMEL flavour. The third track, which develops the theme further still, introduces Latimer on vocals. Then comes this incredible short track entitled “Cobh”, one of those divine pieces that unmistakenly bring on the legendary lump in the throat, so familiar to CAMEL lovers. From here on, the album picks up the pace and gets better and better with every track. Among the best are the bluesy rocker "Watching the Bobbins", the whirly/flighty "Running from Paradise", the joyful "Coming of Age", the whole thing culminating in “The Hour Candle” which features one of LATIMER's most heart-wrenghing blues guitar solos ever (think “Ice” carried to the 10th power). The CD ends with the sound of waves splashing on a lonely shore, leaving the listener with a strong, lingering feeling of homesickness ((( sigh...)))