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Mostly Autumn - Dressed in Voices CD (album) cover


Mostly Autumn


Prog Folk

3.86 | 204 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Finally! I said, 'Finally!'

I began my love affair with Mostly Autumn when they released their magical first album, 1999's "For All We Shared", a highly intoxicating mix of Pink Floyd mannerisms including that whopping guitar sound , celestial female vocals courtesy of Heather Findlay, sprinkled with Celtic ornamentation by using fiddle, Uillean pipes, Tin whistles etc...This exciting formula kept on giving amazing albums, "The Spirit of Autumn Past" and "The Last Bright Light" and I became a devout fan. Then with "Passengers", it really felt like a chapter was being closed, and I started instead gravitating towards the Breathing Space project, a parallel group led by keysman Ian Jennings and featuring Olivia Spannern, who at that juncture was supplying backing voices for Findlay. From 2005 's "Storms Over Still Water" up to 2012's "Ghost Moon Orchestra", a span of five lukewarm albums tempered my enthusiasm for this once glorious band and many commentators noted this dip in stylistics (calling it a poppier diversion). In the interim, Heather left for a still to date invisible solo career, now replaced by the masterful Olivia, who remains a phenomenal voice. This flux period seemed to indicate a certain 'lost in the desert' attitude, Josh somehow losing focus of what made the original concept so attractive. His voice got growly, his guitar playing becoming less attractive and the songs suffered from a lack of emotion, as if formulaic methodology was the best method for success. Many a prog fan despaired but three important elements came to the rescue. Firstly, master keyboardist Iain Jennings ended Breathing Space a few years ago and began improving the raw misdirection by adorning new found melodies with dense keyboard artistry. Secondly, Olivia who literally shone with BS, was finally thrust into the forefront, so much so that the seemingly depressed Bryan Josh saw a relighting of his muse when realizing that the two had fallen in love. I will state this again for the record, nothing is more inspiring than love or , its contrary, separation /divorce to ignite the hidden inner light, the source of so much emotional creativity. Finally, in terms of attitude, I truly suspect that Bryan Josh is ultimately the big difference, his fiery passion and shy sensitivity literally overflowed on the first 3 MA albums, as he was dealing with the passing of his father (a deep pain I also have had to endure), then he got caught up in the business world, should have known it would make him frustrated as well as miserable and then, along came Olivia and boom! The passion is back and it's called love. The single most powerful emotion ever. Josh now deliberately infuses more diversity in his guitar playing, no more an overt Gilmour fan boy. His fret board playing is still inspired by the Gilmour/Latimer camp but there are also slick references to Hendrix, Clapton and even some 'country style' picking a la Knopfler. His tones are way more varied and his soloing is truly earth shaking (as on the dizzying title track), all due to his rekindled inspiration, his beating heart leading the way, writing hugely romantic melodies that are both grandiose and timeless.

As expressed recently by Lazland so eloquently, we fans have been waiting for that return to form that made Mostly Autumn so impressive. I believe that the band members have delivered on all fronts, as this release oozes desire, lust, sweet loving, profound exaltation, giddiness , all side effects from being happily married and still basking in all the euphoria, as well as Mr. Jennings coming through with some inspired melodies and orchestrations.

Each song is an outright jewel, the soft sensual songs are loaded with feeling and delivered with impeccable grace, even Josh has softened his voice to how it once was. Olivia proves once again that she is the current prog female singer queen (Annie Haslam was great but now she is history) and she definitely reigns supreme, as her voice as well as her presence are simply awe-inspiring. While Gavin Griffiths is a phenomenal drummer, Alex Cromarty has a thumping pulse that caught my ear many times in listening to this monster album. Needless to repeat again, Jennings supplies gorgeous and copious piano, subtle organ and sublime synthesizer throughout, providing incredible depth and drama to the arrangements. There are way more "Evergreen"-like moments, soft and elaborate ballads that are overflowing with goose bumping feeling, such as the swooning and stunning "Running", the woozy delight of "House on the Hill" and the intense euphoria of " The Last Day". The rockier songs are razor sharp as witnessed on "Down by the River" and the bombastic disposition of the highly symphonic opener "Saturday Night". Sophistication shows up on the more elaborate prog symphonicity of "First Day of School", a style that has been reported missing since the 'Passengers' album! There are also a fair amount of duets (Bryan and Olivia wrapped around the mike stand) and the results are scintillating! On "Not Yours to Take", the interaction is a pure delight, a sensual fountain of eternal love and unbridled passion.

Not only have Mostly Autumn found their groove but this album just may become the best they have ever done. Love conquers all, the artwork beyond amazing, a true return to form. Stay deeply in love and the music will flow eternally, I am impressed beyond all expectations. Sadly, many prog fans will miss this one and lose out on a sheer masterpiece, easily among 2014's top 5 albums.

Bravo! I wish I was in such delirious love! BTW, this highly romantic review is dedicated to that scintillating artist, our very own Kati.

5 choir gowns

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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