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Barclay James  Harvest - Once Again CD (album) cover

ONCE AGAIN

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

3.82 | 175 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Witch
2 stars 'Mockingbird' is a masterpiece. Beginning with a tender, humble, guitar arpeggio, the song starts as a gentle love song, a genuine love song, tinged with a definite bittersweet melancholy. Gradually strings and horns fade into consciousness, ebbing and flowing like waves of feeling, but giving the piece a growing sense of scale, a sense which rises into a sudden sweeping crescendo of powerful layered strings and vocals, with a majestic guitar line thrown in for good measure. 'Mockingbird' is a masterpiece.

Unfortunately, the track doesn't set the tone of the album, instead standing out like a shining professional in a team of fairly snotty-nosed gawky teenagers on a team of [insert team sport of your choice] players. The resplendent marriage of sweeping orchestration and honest folk-rock of 'Mockingbird' barely raises its head anywhere else on the album, which is instead populated with rough sounding by-the-numbers rock staples. The band never sound at ease with these lesser tracks, so it is a great shame that the album is padded with them when they could clearly do so much better.

The opener, 'She Said', sets the tone of the album. Clearly harbouring pretensions of being a sweeping orchestral epic, it only really succeeds in being a rock song with some string fills between the chords, and one that goes on too long. It isn't bad; it just feels a wasted opportunity. 'Happy Old World' and 'Ball and Chain' are much worse, being a failed attempt at an eco-anthem and a blues hard rocker respectively, both of which end up sounding a little embarrassing. It isn't all gloom, 'Galadriel' grows into a very prettily textured piece, and 'Song for the Dying' has an odd charm. But overall, as an album, it really fails to hang together and is a disappointment given the band's clear talent.

But then again, 'Mockingbird' is a masterpiece.

Witch | 2/5 |

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