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Oceans 5 - Return to Mingulay CD (album) cover


Oceans 5


Crossover Prog

3.93 | 139 ratings

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4 stars No, Andy John Bradford's Oceans 5 is not a movie featuring Damon, Pitt, Roberts, Clooney and company but a melodious progressive-pop-folk affair that owes its merits by being lathered with superlative musicians, from the incredible (and utterly funny) Colin Tench on guitars, the scintillating keys of Marco Chiappini, Stef Flaming on bass and the sadistic New York shuffle from Vic Tassone on the drum kit. Singer/songwriter Andy John Bradford is a typical British troubadour in the fine tradition of past legends Al Stewart, Roy Harper, John Martyn, Gerry Rafferty, Dave Cousins or current master Guy Manning. So what do we have here to munch on, you ask? A catalogue of fresh, exciting, memorable and accessible songs, built with sonic precision and a modicum of grace and elegance. No hint of pretention or abusive hysterics, most songs are in 6-7 minute range, leaving a lot of scope for musical politesse.

"The Mingulay Boat Song" has an effects-laden windswept intro, sea squalls, gulls squeaking, and a lilting vocal that recalls the classics mentioned above, Tench providing some sizzling axe frills. A definite Fairport Convention/British folk feel permeates the tune, sing along chorus and all. Something you would join in at the pub, warm beer in hand! Come on everyone, join the sway?..

"The Whitby Smugglers Song" is a fine example of the worth at play here, sharp guitar rasps and technical acoustic decorations supply the solid foundation for Bradford to sing his story, a country song from Albion, with a slight the Byrds tinge. Now, I am generally not a fan of such lightweight material but the raucous accompaniment shows off undisputable sonic talent (Oh, Colin, you rock!).

"Empty Hands" has a definite Rafferty?feel (as commented on by Lucas), flourishing keyboard work and stinging country guitar 'kerrangs'. Bradford takes it easy, a sweet little ditty that sticks in your nodes. Cool guitar solo again from the axe madman! "Five O'clock Line" is a highlight track, full of gentle resoluteness and inspired expression, Bradford singing with unabashed emotion, a tremendous track that seduces you from the get-go, no messing about. A simply lovely song in all its components, with a little bizarre thrown in at the end.

The brief but bouncy "Dancing with the Rhythm of the Shore" has an instantly comfortable feel, very much like Guy Manning's work, again allied to some scintillating guitar work (Oh, Colin , you roll!) , great fun tune.

"Invictus Captain of my Soul" is a delightful and serene ditty, slight Irish feel but loaded up with some strong electric guitar messaging and dense percussives from the New Yorker. Sensational backing choir work, repeating "never giving up" ad infinitum. Love this track!

"Sails of the Bay" has 'guitarra espaņola' to start off, developing into a mercurial melody where Colin screeches in like only he can (pop guitarist, really?) and spurts out a series of delirious axe solos for the ages. On the whole we are once again very close to Guy Manning's body of work, a folky story with a strong personal edge. How can one not appreciate such honesty? Okay so it's not Math Rock, nor does it pretend to be. Fun, fun, fun.

The immaculate beauty of "6000 Friends" is something to behold, a melody that would redden Steve Wilson's 'blackfielded' cheeks, a heartfelt urgency that will get you in the gut ("She's got 6000 friends but no one to love". Fantastically simple lyrics and brilliant delivery but its closest companion would be Roxy Music's classic song 'Avalon', complete with the Yannick Etienne-Like wail, the sterling howling vocals a la Great Gig in the Sky come from Lorelei McBroom (a live PF backing vocalist). The outgoing orchestrations and Colin's blowout punch are immaculate.

"Fly Away" is the Everest here, a stellar track lush with classy piano, a breathlessly exasperated vocal, a melody to expire over and gentle fragility. The arrangement slowly increases in power and feeling, becoming a rather impressive prog-rock rant with sublime playing (fret and ivory work) and tremendous bass and drums. This was the clincher for me! Absolute genius stuff! What a way to build an album, from strength to higher strength, culminating in an apoplectic explosion of pleasure.

One should not judge by what it should have been but what it is, in all its simplicity. A fine, up-beat, enjoyable and happy recording, something to illuminate that dark path our lonely world seems to currently favor, where algorithms rule the masses with apparent impunity. Fans of all the mentioned will lap this puppy up.

Brilliant artwork from the seductive Sonia Mota ( Bom dia!) , who has adorned her talent on the Corvus Stone project as well. "Ich liebe dich auch, Kati! "

4.75 googles (whatever that means! )

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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