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Grace - The Poet, The Piper And The Fool CD (album) cover





2.94 | 19 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars Wait a minute, The Fool is on the next album!

The Poet, The Piper And The Fool was Grace' come-back album and their first new studio album since the release of their debut in 1979. There was thus a 13 year gap between the present album and the previous album. As I have not yet heard the 70's debut I cannot comment on how the three 90's albums compare with that old one, but what Grace achieved in the 90's is certainly worthy on its own merits. We find here an appealing mix of classic Symphonic Prog, Neo-Prog and Prog Folk. Influences seem to include early Genesis, Barclay James Harvest and Jethro Tull, perhaps with a sprinkling of Marillion and Camel. The present album is much less hook-laden and "poppy" (which, by the way, is the name of one of the band's albums!) than the subsequent two albums and the appealing Folk elements are much more prominent here.

There are only seven tracks on The Poet, The Piper And The Fool and most of the songs are over six minutes in length allowing for more instrumental sections than on subsequent albums. The album is bookended by its two longest and best tracks, the absolute highlight probably being the opener. In accordance with the album title, there is a song called The Piper (the opener) and another called The Poet. The Fool did, however, have to wait for the next album to make his appearance - it being the opening track on the follow-up album, Pulling Strings And Shiny Things!

The Field is a moving song where vocalist Mac Austin showcases his mellower side as opposed to his more theatrical, Peter Gabriel-like style utilized on some of the other tracks. The Poet is another highlight with a great middle section with Tony Banks-like keyboards (think Selling England By The Pound), great guitar sounds and some discrete use of saxophone. Raindance would probably have sounded better with genuine Bagpipes instead of these keyboard-generated ones, but it still works very well to give the track a feel of the highlands.

The only track that might be considered commercial in nature here is Success which sounds a bit like Jethro Tull-trying-to-make-a-Pop-song-in-the-80's. Maybe it would have fitted on the A album? Anyway it is not a bad song at all! The Ian Anderson-like flutes appear here and there throughout the album. Lullaby is a sublime piano based ballad with strings and, again, a moving vocal by Mr. Austin. This song reminds me of Barclay James Harvest. The album ends on a high note with the two part composition Holy Man.

To sum up: This is a great and varied album, and though the sound is not quite as strong and direct as on the other two 90's albums of the band, the present one is more progressive - or, at least, more Symphonic and Prog Folk than it is Crossover. The Poet, The Piper And The Fool is thus a well recommended addition to your collection together with Pulling Strings And Shiny Things.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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