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Iona - Open Sky CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.09 | 94 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Iona is not my favourite prog folk band. But I have to admit that they have a strong influence on several bands of the genre and that their music is more and more pleasant (which is not the usual thing since most of the time the first albums of a career are the best ones).

The opener "Woven Cord" is simply my favourite "Iona" song ever and a great instrumental track. Unusual instruments, great beat, very strong melody. If ever you would have any doubt about this genre (which is more varied that you might imagine) you need to listen to this song. A wonderful anthem full of passion.

"Wave After Wave" features fantastic vocals. Of course, Joanne Hogg has always been a good vocalist. Since the band's music leaves a great deal to pure instrumental music, it is always very pleasant to listen to her sculptural voice. The second highlight so far.

Not every song will be of that calibre, but the title track is still a good musical moment. Somewhat harder during the major part, it is a pity that the closing section is not longer since it features an interesting acoustic work.

The excellent mood keeps on during the next long song "Castlerigg". The Celtic roots are put forward in a very enjoyable way. While playing such good numbers, this band truly offers a very good musical experience. It took time for me to get attracted with the band (just look at my reviews for their first two albums) but I'm so glad that they finally coped with far much better music (at least to my ears).

When it is good, it is only justice to mention it. And so far, this album is damned good.

The album weakens during the instrumental "A Million Stars" and "Light Reflected" although sounding a bit flat is saved by its great guitar part. "Hinba" being the end of this weaker trilogy.

So now, is the time for the epic. : "Song Of Ascent". Almost twenty two minutes and three movements.

This song is introduced by a long instrumental part for some four minutes and develops on a strong and beautiful vocals section. Strong melody, calm backing band. The strongest element being Joanne's role, by no doubt.

The problem I see with this song is that there aren't really a guiding line for it. Sounds as three different tracks. The second part is fully ambient and instrumental, at times it reminds me of "Close To The Edge" ("I Get Up, I Get Down" part). Spacey and symphonic, more than folk IMHHO. Still the closing part is so optimistic, so warm, so beautiful, so poignant. It lasts for a short time. But so brilliant seconds.

The third section is pure happiness : a conjunction of a bunch of instrumentation with sweet backing vocals. This is for the first half. The second one is just pure magic. A marvellous guitar solo combined with a great beat should just fill ANY prog heart. A grandiose finale.

It is of course difficult to come up with a stronger song after such a brio. Probably a casting mistake. This album should have closed on this great and wonderful "Song Of Ascent". Just imagine "Foxtrot" ending on "Horizons".

Four stars.

ZowieZiggy | 4/5 |


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