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Jethro Tull - Roots To Branches  CD (album) cover

ROOTS TO BRANCHES

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.63 | 328 ratings

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Babelfish
4 stars Having released a barrage of top-notch medieval and folk albums (Minstrels..., Songs..., ...Horses), Tull degenerated into a commercial machine in the 1980s, releasing a series of contrived and boring albums, falling so low as to win a Grammy.

1993's Nightcap was certainly a good effort, but it did not include new material, merely previously recorded works including the now-infamous Chateau D'isater.

So, by the time 1995 came around, Tull's fan base was dwindling directly into nothingness. As such, this album got nowhere near the attention it deserves, for it is truly a return to the Tull innovation of the 1970s. Taking their classic flauting and baroque guitar work, Tull molded their old British folk sound into a delectable near Asian rock. Though they still couldn't resist the urge to include synthesizers in rare occasions, Tull was back to their old form.

Beginning with the phenomenal "Roots to Branches," Ian shows off the new flutework he learned from his daughter -- yes, to the delight of Tull fans everywhere, by this point, Ian has learned to play the flute proper, finally learning proper form and technique. The tone rising and falling at his whim, Anderson takes us on a musical journey through his newest obsession, India and its region, utilizing with great effect bamboo flutes and the sounds of a world so foreign to so many of his listeners.

What Tull seems to have remembered, though, is to not let themselves get hung up on tempo or on solos or on anything else. There's a level of freedom here not present since Heavy Horses. Short, fiery bursts of Martin's electric guitar work are counterpointed by the rolling keyboard licks of new Tully Andy Giddings, all tied together by Ian's virtuostic flute.

Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment of the album is Anderson's ability to nail the atmosphere of the music from this part of the world, while allowing freedom for Tull's personality to its way into the music where appropriate. For nearly two decades, Tull had been wallowing in the same cesspool as their musical peers. On this album, finally, Martin's complex guitarwork has returned, Ian's whimsical fluting is back, and everything feels fluid again, finally. There's the Auqalungesque acoustic guitar from Anderson, even!

It's time this album gets the attention it deserves. Any folk or Tull fan who doesn't give this at least one spin is doing him- or herself an injustice.

Babelfish | 4/5 |

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