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Mostly Autumn - Passengers CD (album) cover

PASSENGERS

Mostly Autumn

 

Prog Folk

3.68 | 105 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars After initial disappointment and an appropriate cooling off period, I returned to this album recently. My initial impressions were that the song quality had lost some consistency, production was much more what one would expect from modern neo prog, chrystalline and blazing with technical potency, but lacking somewhat in subtlety and profundity. In addition, Angela Goldthorpe seemed somewhat less involved, and the celtic edge was smoothed off. These all remain true to my ears, but not always to the detriment of my enjoyment.

One of the problems with "Passengers" is that the group seem like passengers on the laser grooves for the first 3 tracks. It is true that "Last Bright Light" was a slow starter too, but here we are subject to the gamut of MA styles without any sense that this is the genuine article, almost like a tribute band that has decided to try out some original material before they are ready.

Luckily the next set of 3 is as strong as any set in the group canon, and, apart from the swashbuckling rouser "Pass the Clock Part 2", the highlight of the trip. And it is here that MA seems to have improved over what came before, debuting a more gothic and pagan aspect of their personality in "Bitterness Burnt" and "The Simple Ways" in particular. I had always felt that Floyd and fiddles made strange bedfellows, and tended to co-exist in adjacent tracks rather than comfortably as part of the group's essence, like a couple who try too hard to indulge each other's avocations. On these cuts, the occasionally hard-edged progressive rock dances harmoniously by the delicate British Isles instrumentation and traditionally inspired melodies. In between the two is the JETHRO TULL ish "Caught in a Fold" which rocks out behind Goldthorpe's magnificent vocal work.

After this strikingly emotive outburst, the quality dips again, although not as low as on the openers. "Distant Train" is an instrumental that integrates the prior stylings well and "Answer the Question" returns to the sound of "Dark Beyond the Dawn" from the previous album but without the same degree of success. The "Pass the Clock" suite contains 3 parts, but the first seems to exist to provide a buildup for the inspired second, and the third for its denouement. They are not bad, but not all that memorable.

WE could see where Mostly Autumn was heading with this disk, into a territory occupied by prog's hit makers if you will, rather than the twee fairyland of their earlier work, with fewer celtic overtures and a more muscular build. I am not sure if it worked commercially, but what they may have gained in sales they lost in distinction, apart from the aforementioned improvement at blending the old and the new. Nonetheless, "Passengers" is worthwhile enough to keep you in your seats for the trip, if not entertaining enough to get you out of them.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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