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Sean Filkins - War And Peace & Other Short Stories CD (album) cover


Sean Filkins


Crossover Prog

4.08 | 409 ratings

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5 stars Sean Filkins has been drawing rave reviews and considerable praise lately which is odd since he is no newcomer by any stretch, having been involved with Big Big Train (lead vocalist up to The Difference Machine) , neo-prog outfit Lorien as well as spacemen Soma. He has a unique voice that is immediately identifiable, powerful yet good-natured. I actually regretted his BBT replacement with Phil Collins-clone David Longdon, who was recruited for 'the Underfall Yard' sessions. But I guess it took a well-crafted solo album, aided and abetted by a bevy of fellow musicians who respect his talents to really enter the elite. The man knows how to be playfully inventive, beginning with a brief overture that nods and winks at an old IQ title ('Are You Sitting Comfortably?' and then tossing in some weird radio static that features Jerusalem, that fabled English church standard made famous by Vangelis, Jeff Beck and ELP. ' The English Eccentric' is a perfect introduction, coming across like a heavier version of the similarly gifted songwriters Steve Thorne and Guy Manning, seasoned with some grandiose arrangements that veer closer to the Tangent or even the Flower Kings. I find it interesting when some complain of too much fat (prog is like good Alberta beef, you need a little fat to provide flavor) or flaws that serve only to de- sterilize a genre that can easily fall prey to formula. Let us not forget that this is a solo album and as such is way more of a personal musical statement than a group effort.

This is a fine recording that incorporates a wide variety of interesting modules such as the sitar spirals at the onset of the massive 2 part epic Prisoner of Conscience or the Jon Andersonisms of the beginning of Part 2 that is like a demo version of the mythical The Friends of Mr.Cairo (Jon & Vangelis). There are some highly virtuosic performances here, on assorted guitars and bass courtesy of Lee Abraham (Galahad) and Arena's John Mitchell on lead guitar. Anything that has the word 'Epitaph' scares the 'bejesus' out of me, as if anything would dare to come close to the King Crimson masterpiece, arguably my all-time favorite piece of music. Not to worry but close as the whopping nearly 21 minute behemoth 'Epitaph for A Mariner' is a colossal composition of impeccable lineage , a soothing siren wail (Abigail Filkins, I presume) that sets a comfortable numbness, sizzling synth flights that sear the supersymphonic backbone and some truly beatific vocals from the big, big conductor himself. When faced with the challenges of such a huge piece of music, dynamic continuity and intelligent spacing is primordial. This comp has that demeanor in spades. Beautiful timeless music mercifully crested with a gripping slide guitar solo. As mentioned by some PA colleagues, this track alone is worth the price of admission, no refund policy needed. The piano fadeout is heartrendingly evocative.

'Learn How to Learn' is a fitting finale and I am perhaps the first to mention this but there is a definite undercurrent of Yes influence in Sean's singing and lyricism that seeks not to plagiarize but to provide a sense of immortality which the Squireboys have not revisited since 'Drama'. All the praise and galactic asteroids are entirely deserved. And then some''

5 Leo Tolstoys

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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