Novella provides a bridge between the prog-rock complexity of its predecessor, Scheherazade and Other Stories, and the pop-prog crossover A Song for All Seasons. Scheherazade contained some of the most musically challenging work Renaissance had done up to that point, and there are echoes of that approach here. The grandeur and scope of the album's orchestral-rock opener, "Can You Understand," and the epic journey of the closing cut, "Touching Once (Is So Hard to Keep)," bookend Novella with the kind of classically influenced flavor that earned Renaissance their reputation. But between those two bookends, the band foreshadow the more pop-savvy, radio-friendly sound that would soon make A Song for All Seasons their most successful album ever. Led by Annie Haslam's gossamer vocals and Michael Dunford's folky acoustic guitar strumming, "Midas Man" leans in a distinctly accessible direction despite timpani and synth flourishes, and the plaintive vocal-and-piano ballad "The Captive Heart" is more Judy Collins than Jethro Tull.


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