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Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso - One Drop In A Dry World CD (album) cover


Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso


Eclectic Prog

3.17 | 13 ratings

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4 stars After a few years away from the music bizz, Woolly's interest was jump started by involvement with John Lees' version of BJH in the late 1990s yet he was left stranded when Lees pulled the plug on a follow-up album to Nexus. Woolly took the remainder of the Nexus band [Fletcher and Whitehead] while re-convening with Steve Broomhead, his old Męstoso guitarist from the early 1980s, to record One Drop In A Dry World, his first new studio album for 23 years.

The result, compared to debut album Męstoso, is more of the same yet different! Songs retain undeniable character traits familiar from Woolly's earlier work yet arrangements are looser, more open and a little more relaxed, less consciously recreating the old BJH sound, even in places reminding me of singer-songwriters like Sean Colvin with acoustic guitars to the fore backed by a gently rocking rhythm section. A Waiting Game is an example, a lilting song about rampant consumerism highjacking Christmas, which follows a multi-tracked guitar solo with a mellow oboe passage, the whole effect painting an evocative picture of mince pies by a fireside on a cold winter night.

But, fear not, for the mighty Mellotron makes its presence felt too on songs like the three-part progressive blockbuster Blood And Bones ["without a soul we're nothing more than ...."] sandwiching an ethereal requiem between big dramatic themes and powerful guitar phrases. Described by Woolly as a "miserable hymn for insomniacs", 2 A.M. uses 12 string guitar and lovely fretless bass to create a sombre mood demonstrating the darker side of some of Woolly's lyrics which commonly relate to everyday concerns. Indeed, many lyrics on this album are doom-laden and angsty, as if Woolly was angrily exorcising a few unwelcome ghosts.

Special mention must be made of Souk, perhaps the album's stand-out track, depicting life in and around an Arabian bazaar, but hinting that things are very different when the sun has set and the tourists have gone. Built around a glorious riff from Broomhead and some excellent chord progressions, it evokes the sights, sounds and smells [huh?] of northern Africa through clever arrangement and orchestration, almost Page-Plant [Unledded] in flavour.

All in all, a welcome and triumphant return from the cold with enough Prog twists to satisfy.

Joolz | 4/5 |


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