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Mostly Autumn - The Last Bright Light  CD (album) cover

THE LAST BRIGHT LIGHT

Mostly Autumn

 

Prog Folk

4.00 | 165 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars For my tastes this is the best studio album ever released by Mostly Autumn even though I remember a little disappointment at the first listen. There had been an important change in the lineup respect to the first two albums: there's no more violin and this means that the celtic influence is less important and this is what I was disappointed for. Later I have realized that it's better looking for prog on prog albums and for folk on folk albums. At the end it's better so as the band was not able to make a real fusion of the two genres, apart from the second half of The Gap Is Too Wide where electric guitar and pipes stay well together.

Another significant change is Mr. Blackmore junior at the drums.

And this is how this album starts. The last seconds of The Gap is Too wide open this album as the previous was opened by the last notes of The Night Sky. A short instrumental intro leads to the first true song: "We Come and We Go", a soft acoustic ballad with a powerful chorus.

"Half The Mountain"...why does Bryan Josh sing so much? However, at this point MA have a distinctive sound. The influence of David Gilmour in how Bryan plays guitar can't disappear, but on this third album and mainly on this song there's no sense in speaking of references. This is a Mostly Autumn song. There's maybe a bit of Genesis when the music stops and there's a piano crescendo which leads to a guitar solo more in the style of Steve Rothary than of Gilmour.

A short acoustic interlude with "The Eyes of the Forest" that's the first song fully featuring Heather's vocals. She really makes the difference. I think Bryan Josh is underrated as singer because his voice can't be compared in any way to Heather's, but taken alone even if not very good he's not so much bad. The song is sweet and deep like a starry sky. The bad is Angela's flute fading out at the end. Please let her play.

The atmosphere changes drastically with the dark sounds of "Darkness Before the Dawn". The keyboard intro has a bit of Blade Runner inside, then Bryan sings and on the chorus we have the first celtic moment of the album which is performed by Angela's flute. A sudden stop and the darkness is restored. Then celtic again until the guitar solo.

Fender piano and Heather's whispered voice on low pitches create the right atmosphere for a great song. "Hollow" is a slow crescendo of emotions with a great piano solo in the middle. Great not technically speaking but for what it's able to create in the listener: the right expectation for Bryan's guitar solo. Then Heather is backed by Angela in the reprise of the chorus to the coda.

The celtic flavor comes back thanks to Angela's flute and the acoustic guitar. I don't know if played by Bryan or by Liam Davison. Not a special song anyway.

Then comes the title track. again acoustic with a whispered voice, but this time is Bryan's. A male choir (keyboard?) accompanies Bryan to the chorus, followed by a very Gilmourian guitar part. Few notes over Liam's harping and the whole structure is repeated a second time. Heather supplies some rhythm with her Bodhran then the last solo guitar brings the song to its end. Not bad even if it's quite similar to Darkness Before the Dawn. . "Never The Rainbow" was a potential hit single. It's a rock song easy enough for the big audience with Heather taking her role of lead singer supported by Iain's organ. Then it comes the first masterpiece song f the album. Since now to the end there's only excellent stuff. "Shrinking Violet" features Heather as lead vocalist and in the chorus she makes a duo with Angela. All what you look for in a symphonic prog song is here, plus the folk flavor added by the flute. Think to Renaissance just to have an idea.

"Helms Deep" is the most folky song. of the album. Based mainly on few 12-strings chords and Angela's flute has some very floydian moments inside. It's one of my favorite tracks. I have to add that the live version on the DVD "The Story So Far" features an interlude made of bass, drums and bodhran instead of the "pipes and chevalry" of the studio version. I think I prefer the first.

"Which Wood" is a short instrumental based on flute with a medieval flavor. It's similar in the repetitive structure to "At Last To Rivendell" on their "Lord Of The Rings": the same theme repeated several times increasing the speed.

Finally the masterpiece: "Mother Nature". I have read about Bryan Josh been inspired to his mother's death. It's a complex long song, quite an epic, with a strong Genesis flavor. Bryan and Heather sing together, first over a piano base. "Sometimes she cries for love...." The chorus is developed around this sentence. There are several moments in this song. The guitar solo at around minute 4 reminds a lot of early Marillion, think to Grendel, but I personally like this song more than everything the Marillion have ever done.

Just a trivia: I remember some years ago I was paying a fee at a motorway gate (in my country motorways are not free) and the officer asked me what I was listening to. It was a compilation of MA songs that I had made at home just for that travel as I couldn't bring with me all the albums that I wish. I picked up the cd from the reader and gave it to him saying "Mostly Autumn, Try". It was the coda of this song, when Josh plays with no effects like Dave Gilmour on the final of High Hopes. Effectively I see a connection between Mother Nature and High Hopes even if they are two very different songs. This song would be enough for the maximum rating, and given that the rest of the album has just a couple of "non-special" tracks I'm not ashamed of rating it 5 stars.

octopus-4 | 5/5 |

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