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HEART FULL OF SKY

Mostly Autumn

Prog Folk


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2 stars While I love Mostly Autumn's other albums, this is very poor. It has not got any tracks that stand out as great, and some that are well below par, especially for this band. A line up change has happened since their previous album with Chris Johnson replacing Iain Jennings on keyboard. But in fairness i don't think he can be blamed for this loss of form, he did write my favourite track 'silver glass' and leads the vocals admirabley on another of the better songs 'ghost'.' Half a world' and 'yellow time' are two other songs which I do quite like but others just don't work at all for me. 'Pocket watch' is the weakest song with sloppy lyrics and 'open road' sounds unfinished.' Dreaming' is potentially a great song but it is about such an emotional & upsetting subject (twin towers)that it's hard to just get on and enjoy it. Overall the drumming is used almost incidentally as is the second guitar. Angela Gordon who is (in my opinion) one of the greatest flautists on the scene is almost totally missing from the album and even underused on keyboard (also an excellent player). Troy Donockley and Anne-Marie Helder both make guest appearances and perform ably, and Olivia Sparnenn who is now a semi permanent member of the band also does some lovely backing vocals. Other guests appear on the album including McKinty Gordon (Angela's husband) which is a nice touch. It's a real shame that this album lacks direction and conviction and has no true classics. Perhaps the regular release single disc will pick out the better parts and I hope it does well, but this is definitely the worst Mostly Autumn album for me.

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Send comments to laghtnans (BETA) | Report this review (#108063)
Posted Friday, January 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars OK, at first I didn't want to write a review, because those who know me know that I'm a big fan of this band, and I could be accused to be too much of a friend to be neutral. I agree with those who say that Angela is much underused, but hey, you can't force them to use a flute just for the sake of it if it doesn't fit the songs.

imo, "Heart full of sky" is the best thing Mostly Autumn ever did. Those who were disappointed by the previous album will be glad to hear that the songs are fully developed where on "Storms over still water" the songs were deliberately kept short. One of the finest songs on the album is "Walk with a storm", a nice rocker which leads to a folky bridge not unlike their early work. But all the other songs are fine too. Heather sings even more beautiful than ever on songs as "Half a world", "Gaze" or "Yellow time" (on which she also plays 12-string guitar), and new member Chris Johnson shows that he fits in perfectly in the band with the beuatiful ballad "Silver glass", and "Science and machinery" (which reminded me of Magenta).

I'll accept that there'll never be an album made by any band that will satisfy everyone, but I believe that after every new album Mostly Autumn made was a step forward, "Heart full of sky" is a GIANT LEAP forward.

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Send comments to Anthony (BETA) | Report this review (#108258)
Posted Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars What a disappointment 'Storms over still water' was. Would this great band find their direction again and avoid making too loud rocking mediocre songs and replace it with their unique Celtic and Floydian music? That was the question I asked myself firmly when I laid my hand on their new album 'Heart full of sky'. The first impression was not too good; the drawing on the cover is in the same vein as its predessor SOSW. But it is the music that counts and that is far better than the aforementioned album. Because the band really has tried to regain their unique style and that can be best illustrated by the fact that flautist Angela Goldthorpe can be heard on quite a few tracks again. Well done!!! Add the uileann pipes and the Floydian guitars, imagine the sweet voice of Heather Findlay and there you have that strange yet very attractive mix again.

But: there is something odd with this album.

For some reason I really can not understand why the band refuses to make full use of Findlays lead vocals. Brian Josh, a good (yet not great) guitarist and with Findlay the nucleus of MA, has clearly made a step back as a lead vocalist which was, in my opinion, a wise decision. He is not a bad singer but he isn´t near as good as Heather Findlay. But surprisingly he is replaced on two tracks by newcomer Chris Johnson on lead vocals, the new keyboard player. He turns out not to be a great vocalist either but he isn´t bad. But guys, you have Findlay so why looking further??? She can do the lead vocals on most songs so do it!

Looking at the songs it appears that they all tend to be longer than on SOSW which is a good thing. Most of the songs are rather low paced and the exceptions are, in my opinion, the worst songs. Especially ' Pocket watch' is a very, very bad choice: it seems to be a medium paced rock song with a simple chorus and not too attractive choruses. Just skip it all together, it brings you into a bad mood. Fortunately it is followed by some beautiful ballads like 'Blue light' and, on the second cd, 'Gaze' and ' Broken soldier' . In these songs MA proves that they can still write and play and still rank among the better bands this moment. The long tracks are good and typically MA, with guitar solos fading out. The album as a whole is far better than SOSW but it isn't as good as their three first albums. Therefore I would like to give them 3,5 stars but because of 'Pocket watch' it is 3 stars.

Originally it was meant to have this limited 2CD edition available only by pre-order. That could mean that the band plans to get a single CD version in the regular stores. That would be too bad but if they succeed in making the right selection that can turn out as a really great cd. In the meantime I'll enjoy these two cd's, apart from that horrible rock song....

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Send comments to Theo Verstrael (BETA) | Report this review (#112914)
Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I can imagine the new epic double album from Mostly Autumn surprising a lot of people. Certainly, the majestic Pink Floyd stylisms are still there, as are the folky and Celtic elements, but this time the band have really pushed the boat out and become a great deal more adventurous. At various times, "Heart Full Of Sky" resembles everything from Stravinsky to noted German avant gardists Anima, via elements of Italian sympho-prog, Scandinavian prog metal, RIO and even hints of zeuhl. In particular, the second album (intended solely for die-hard fans, and issued in strictly limited quantities) contains some of the freakiest and most exciting music I've heard in years.

I'm joking, of course: this sounds exactly how you would expect a Mostly Autumn album to sound, except that it has even less to do with progressive rock than their previous albums. In fact, apart from "Broken Soldier"/"Further From Home" on the second album, it's not prog at all (despite plenty of Dave Gilmour- esque guitar solos, and the mellotron-based arrangement for the beautiful ballad "Gaze"). No, what we have here is mellow melodic rock, resembling a cross between early-to-mid seventies Fleetwood Mac and Gerry Rafferty, although on "Yellow Time" the band sounds uncannily like Oasis (the seventies Californian band that also recorded as RJ Fox, not Messrs Gallagher and friends).

Of course, it's by no means a bad album: Bryan Josh and Heather Findlay are too accomplished as songwriters to allow that, and with guests the calibre of Peter Knight and Troy Donockley there is some superb musicianship on offer. Overall, I'd say the songs are a notch above "Storms Over Still Water" but markedly below "Passengers". Ultimately, if you like seventies West Coast soft rock, "Heart Full Of Sky" is a good album - but still not a great one, as Bryan Josh isn't Gerry Rafferty and Heather Findlay isn't Christine McVie.

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Send comments to Politician (BETA) | Report this review (#113405)
Posted Saturday, February 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This review is about the 1-CD version, it's the same as CD-1 from the 2-CD Limited Version but 11 tracks, including Further From Home as an extra.

From the very first beginning of this new album by UK proggers Mostly Autumn I am carried away, what a wonderful, dynamic and often compelling music. The first track showcases how matured they have in composing: after a mellow intro featuring beautiful female vocals and soaring keyboards, a mid-tempo with a bombastic atmosphere follows, I love the howling slide-guitar and the wonderful classical orchestrations. The strong duo vocals by Josh and Heather create an extra dimension. We can also enjoy a fiery guitar solo and a dreamy final part with fragile work on guitar and piano and soaring keyboards, what a tasteful and elaborate composition! The promising high level can also be found on the rest of this CD, due to the dynamics and varied instrumentation: compelling and bombastic with duo-vocals, an accellaration with lush Hammond waves, a beautiful violin solo, subtle bagpipe play and wonderful kebyoards in Walk With A Storm, warm vocals, fragile piano and very moving violin, quite intense violin work in Find The Sun, from dreamy with piano to compelling with sensitive electric guitar in Silver Glass and a kind of 'symphonic rock and roll' in Dreaming: a catchy rhythm, fat guitar and powerful duo-vocals. Myhighlight is the song Further From Home: a great build-up, from dreamy with piano, soaring keyboards and sensitive guitar to a compelling rhythm, culminating in a fiery eruption with howling guitar runs, splendid! Then a mid-tempo that leads to a 'grand finale' with again howling guitar and beautiful classical orchestrations, this is Progheaven!

I have heard a lot of albums and I have seen some concerts but I am pleasantly surprised that Mostly Autumn has reached this high level, to me this sounds as their best effort.

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#117398)
Posted Thursday, April 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars As usual, this double "limited edition" CD set is a bit too long to make it fully interesting. I guess that the standard edition will do for most of MA fans; but when I see the very limited amount of reviews for this album, I wonder if there are still many out there.

The second CD has to be considered exactly for what it is. A collector item with several good moments. "Open Road" maybe...In this one Heather is sharing the lead vocals. Since she has to share this role in quite a few songs, I can only be pleased to be able to her beautiful voice (same in "Gaze").

This CD is also mellower, folkier than the first one. In some sort it can be considered as a return to the roots. "Broken Soldier" perfectly fits in this perspective : a soft ballad with a great guitar finale. I guess you know the story...My favourite track of this bonus CD is "Further From Home". A great track fully dominated by a superb guitar solo. I really like this guy, even if the influence of Gilmour is obvious and at times irritating for some of you. The last section contains some beautiful vocals (both leading and backings). It is actually another interpretation of "Fading Colours" (in terms of vocals). Just great.

""Fading Colours" opens the standard CD version brilliantly. It is definitely in-line with their best work. Do not search any further to find the best song of the album. Wonderful vocal harmonies like we are used to. And after this, the listener will have the joy to discover "Half A World". Another typical MA number with again a fabulous guitar solo. How much I like these guitar moments. So emotional... Thank you Josh.

"Pocket Watch" is a bit less catchy but "Blue Light" brings us back to the marvelous voice of Heather. It is the soft side of the band which is featured here but the melody is so pleasant... This song is of course punctuated with a brilliant guitar break. But this is no surprise, right ?

"Walk With A Storm" is purely folkish oriented. Splendid violin during an energetic finale. A classic MA song. Another one. Same feeling for "Find The Sun". Soft-rock with sweet and tranquil violin. A bit mellowish to be honest. It is all the contrary for "Ghost". After a weird intro sung by Josh, the wonderful chorus comes at the rescue (thanks Heather). What a pity that the whole of this track is so unbalanced !

"Broken" is not a very song. Press next to get to "Silver Glass". As usual, MA will place almost the longest numbers at the end of the album. But these ones won't be to remember.

This album is decent follow-up to "Storms Over Still Waters" (my MA fave). The second part of the standard release is somewhat weaker. They could have released a very good one CD effort if they had picked up the best tracks of CD 2 and replace some of the numbers to be found on their one CD release (sounds a bit complicated, right ?). I really look forward to go and see them next December (Spirit of 66, of course).

Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#135686)
Posted Saturday, September 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars I just can’t get into this album. Even though I’ve been a big Mostly Autumn fan since the first time I heard “Heroes Never Die” and “Evergreen”, this batch of songs just doesn’t do much for me. And I call it a batch of songs and not an album because that’s what it sounds like. There’s no continuity to speak of, something fans have pretty much come to expect from these guys.

The lineup is mostly the same, with the exception of a new keyboardist. But there’s always enough going on in a Mostly Autumn arrangement that one musician isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference one way or another (with the exception of the still- awesome Heather Findlay of course, who is pretty much indispensable).

And that’s the one thing you have to give these guys credit for – their musicianship. There are an awful lot of talented musicians both as members and as guests on this any every other Mostly Autumn album, and the sonic richness of the music and outstanding studio production has to be appreciated.

But beyond that, the innovation and passion and novelty are just not there this time. This is a labor of must, not of love. I would imagine there was a recording contract obligation deadline involved here.

Not that there’s anything horribly amiss – there isn’t. Any maybe that’s part of the problem. Maybe if Findlay farted in the middle of a track or Bryan Josh had a guitar string break or there were a few off-key notes then at least I’d know these guys were actually alive and not propped up mailing this thing in from no-engagement land. But there isn’t, so I don’t. Every note is precise, every tempo change and rhythm well-orchestrated. Kind of reminds me of an Explorer’s Club album in that respect – so perfect you just don’t like it. Kind of like that girl you knew in school who looked so much like a model and was so poised and perfect that all the guys seemed to have an innate instinct to avoid her, and today she’s a middle-aged spinster working at a bookstore and stuffing envelopes for political campaigns on weekends.

So I guess what I’m saying is that this thing needs some dirt, some flaws, maybe some secreted bodily fluids spilled on it to give it some life. The opening track “Fading Colours” is quintessential Mostly Autumn – soaring guitars from Josh, Findlay’s gorgeous voice mixed with his, and a rhythmic hook that keeps you listening until the last note. Great stuff, and obviously written as a single. A great and promising beginning. And “Half a World” is a decent slower number, although it seems a bit early in a two-disc album to be slowing things down so that people on the floor can slow-dance. Whatever.

But that’s about it. Shocking – a two-disc set that shoots its wad in the first twelve minutes. The acoustic brooding ballad “Gaze” on disc two prominently features Findlay’s voice without Josh’s, which is a definite plus but otherwise it’s not really an exceptional track. And “Softer than Brown” is a decent closer with the Josh and Findlay in a duet with a tense guitar outro that leaves the listener hanging a bit (probably intended as a cliffhanger for the next album, I suppose). The rest of the album sounds like one well-produced filler track after another. Unfortunately there’s nearly two hours of this in total.

I really can’t recommend this much, especially considering the price and the amount of time you’d have to invest in listening to the whole thing a couple of times. If you are one of those lipstick-goth angst-ridden teen types who fancies themselves a Mostly Autumn fan then you’ll probably like this because the music will provide a nice aural backdrop to your angst-ing. But if you listen to these guys to see what they will come up with next that is new and fresh, keep looking. You won’t find much here. Two stars.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#146203)
Posted Sunday, October 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This could so easily have been a complete masterpiece, but it just falls short. Sure, it's a departure from the delicious Celtic, folky, mountaineering & Tolkein inspired early material, but the band have moved on. Gone is keyboards wizard Iain Jennings and into the band comes Chris Johnson, multi-instrumentalist and singer.

Highlights are the classic Fading Colours, Half a World, Walk With a Storm, Find the Sun (featuring some great violin work from Peter Knight of Steeleye Span) and Silver Glass, though this is a bit of a shock until you get used to Chris Johnson's voice. It clearly shows his potential as a songwriter, something the band need now Iain Jennings is no longer around to provide variety to Bryan Josh's offerings. But there are a couple of real duds too; Pocket Watch is an awful attempt at Syd Barrett era psychadelia with a banal, singalong chorus (Bryan Josh wrote it and loves it, apparently!) and Ghosts isn't great (especially not live).

However, the bonus 2nd CD, which might be expected to be filler, has some real gems on it. Leaving aside Science and Machinery (not MA at all), Open Road and Yellow Time (an Odin Dragonfly track originally) are very fine and Gaze, built round a peculiar and repetitive keyboard phrase and featuring some fine gentle violin, is magnificent, featuring one of Findlay's most exquisite vocals. All these last 3 should have been on the main CD in my opinion, replacing Pocket Watch and Ghosts. The rest of the Bonus Tracks are of high quality and Further From Home was promoted to the final single CD.

As ever, the entire band play quite superbly and the production is slick with no rough edges at all. It's a bit less heavy than Storms but still a damn fine effort from the best prog band currently operating. With more judicious track selection for the main CD, that could easily have have rated 5*. However, the limited edition double CD is worth an easy 4* and is the one to hunt down - if you can get anyone to part with their copy. Do not hold your breath and don't apply here!

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Send comments to Hercules (BETA) | Report this review (#146221)
Posted Sunday, October 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Firstly I should make it clear that this review is based on the standard 1 disc version as opposed to the limited edition 2 disc set.

After the excellent Passengers, Storms Over Still Water though having some good moments was a bit of a disappointment. I'm pleased to say that Heart Full of Sky is a vast improvement and return to form with overall much stronger songs. In fact I would go as far to say that it is a strong contender for their best yet.

Often cited as being the next Pink Floyd, while no doubt helping the band gain some much needed exposure, is not altogether true. Sure there's Floyd influences in their sound, particularly on their earlier albums but with each release they seem to have moved further away from that. There's still some of the Folk influences present, though again less with each new album, Mostly Autumn these days are a lot of the time a much heavier proposition. However there's still plenty of room for the quieter more reflective moments usually sung by Heather Findlay who has developed into a fine Vocalist over the last few albums. Thankfully on more recent albums she takes far more lead Vocals over Bryan Josh whose deadpan delivery has always been a weak point of the band for me. Okay he's a useful foil to Findlay for backing vocals but doesn't have the character in his voice to be a great singer, though admittedly much improved over recent years.

The instrumentation here is very rich with lots of dynamics. Simple but effective rhythmic structures lay the foundations for lush Keyboards and powerful Guitars with some lovely solos from Josh. Acoustic Guitar, Flute (less so these days) and Violin add the more folky elements and as on Broken the sound is more orchestrated.

The album gets off to a great 1 - 2 start with the powerful Fading Colours, Mostly Autumn at their most bombastic and is one of the album highlights. Nearly as good though more restrained is Half a World with a lovely vocal from Findlay. Pocket Watch is a fairly mundane mid tempo Rocker; much better is Blue Light, one of the quieter moments, again with another strong performance from Findlay.

Another album highlight follows with the nearly 8 minute Walk With a Storm. Starting slowly, but powerfully with a unison Findlay/Josh vocal, the track builds to a mid-section climax with a tasty Violin solo from guest, Peter Knight and another searing Guitar solo, taking us towards the end.

Things calm down again for Find the Sun, a hauntingly beautiful atmospheric piece and good use being made of a melancholic sounding Violin; a lovely track. Ghost also starts off atmospherically on the verse, some nice guitar picking from Josh, also taking the vocal until the track explodes for the chorus with Findlay taking over. The previously mentioned Broken follows, tastefully played and sung throughout and the same can be said of Silver Glass.

Further From Home, the penultimate song has a long instrumental start, once again another nice Josh solo and there's Angela Gordon's Flute! Not used nearly enough on this album which is a shame. The track then revisits the theme of opening track Fading Colours which might have been a nice way to tie up the album. That job is left to Dreaming, at 8 and a half minutes the longest track on the album. Another powerful track with lots of tempo/time shifts keeping it interesting; a worthy closer.

At the time of writing, Mostly Autumn are due to release a new album in the next few days. Hopefully it will maintain the quality set by this one.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#168519)
Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As we fade away / Every single day / Is dying away in the sky

And we're nowhere near Kansas anymore / We're not even over the rainbow

Well, this band has gone unnoticed to me since I found that the music was somewhat in the middle of something, not truly south or north . or just simply put, most of the compositions they make do not stir my emotion. While, as you know it, that I believe "music is emotion". My experience with the band started back when I purchased directly from their label (Cyclops) an album called "For All We Shared" in 1999. As I wrote at this site, I started listening again this album after I listened to AYREON "The Human Equation". HEATHER FINDLAY of Mostly Autumn appeared as guest vocal, played her wonderful role as "Love". What an excellent performance she did, for example in DAY THREE: PAIN. That debut was heavily influenced by PINK FLOYD, STEVE HACKETT and FOCUS even though their music is different - it's more on folk-based music with some ambient, psychedelic and symphonic flavors. If we typically listen to soft keyboard sound with PINK FLOYD, the band chooses to use violin instead without losing the intended output. Their music is overall accessible to most listeners. It has a relatively minimum high and low points and or it's relatively flat, minimum or even no tempo change.

True North .

That was then in the beginning .and now with their seventh studio album they took a firmed standpoint by adopting "more" on Pink Floyd flavor, combined with their roots in folk music. You might say that this is a combined style of Floyd and Joan Baez or Fleetwood Mac. But most of their compositions in this album are leaned toward Floydian sounds.

The opening track is well-positioned in the album because it definitely will attract most listeners, be it a long time fan or newbie or..in fact any music buff will probably love this catchy track. "Fading colours" (8:25) opens with soft long sustain keyboard work followed peacefully with Heather Findlay's great voice "As we fade away .". After the first lyrical verse the music is punctuated by keyboard work with nice ambient followed with a blast of music with great energy, in Floydian spirit like "Sorrow" (Floyd's "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" album). The song moves wonderfully in medium beat teamp using brilliant orchestration, and catchy melody. You might imagine that this might be Pink Floyd meets Nightwish but without progressive metal elements. It's a superb song. The ending part with mellow and dark nuance has truly enriched the textures of the music.

"Half a world (4:50)" is a ballad-based music with an intro like Pink Floyd's "Welcome to The Machine" (Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here"). It contains ample Floydian electric guitar work that reminds me to "Time" from Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of The Moon". The next track "Pocket watch" (4:20) flows in medium tempo with ambient nuance, like Porcupine Tree or RPWL, with its roots on Pink Floyd style. "Blue light" (4:58) mellow track with nice melody and nice acoustic guitar work augmented with keyboard, featuring Heather Findlay on vocals.

"Walk with a storm" (7:51) starts nicely with guitar riffs followed by guitar work that sounds thicker than previous tracks' guitar work. It flows with male vocals and later in duet style. The combined guitar effects and keyboard work accompanying the vocal is really great and catchy. The song is solid in bringing the music from one segment to another. The interlude part in the middle of the track moves the music into crescendo with great organ / keyboard work while the music runs in faster tempo with higher register notes on vocals. At the end of this interlude is a wonderfully crafted violin solo that makes the music of Mostly Autumn is a "category in its own". I really enjoy the evocative violin work at this ending part of the track, backed by keyboard with symphonic nuance. The ending part is another great segment with wild lead guitar solo. WOW! It's a masterpiece!

"Find the sun" (5:32) is a brilliant track in mellow mood with Heather Findlay on vocal while acoustic piano and violin improvisations play dominant role followed with acoustic guitar as main rhythm section accompanying Heather Findlay's voice. "Ghost" (5:27) continues similar vein with previous track but it has faster tempo and male vocal which then followed by female vocal when the music moves into heavier segment. "Broken" (5:11) is another mellow song with piano touch and beautiful female singing. The song has created excellent nuance with simple composition, catchy melody. It's cool. "Silver glass" (7:12) is nice track with mellow and dark opening by female vocal accompanied by piano and acoustic setting, in catchy melody. The song moves beautifully to full music in electric setting, with Pink Floyd ambient. "Dreaming" (8:36) guitar riffs remind me to The Beatles' "I Want You" even though it's not the same. The song moves from mellow to music with high energy like a straight rocker.

"Science and machinery" (6:00) starts ambient with guitar effects followed by low register notes on male vocals. "Open road" (4:22) is basically a pop song with a bit of rock orientation, followed with "Gaze "(4:48) in similar vein, pop. "Yellow time" (5:11) starts nicely with acoustic guitar and flute that brings the music in medium tempo, acoustic guitar serves as main rhythm section. "Broken soldier" (6:12) is a mellow track with excellent Floydian guitar, while acoustic guitar serves as main rhythm section augmented by keyboard. "Further from home" (6:27) is another brilliantly written track which opens nicely with soft piano touch followed wonderfully by guitar solo which satisfies Pink Floyd fans, really. After the music starts in slow moving tempo, at approx minute 2:00 the music sounds louder than before with even more stunning Floydian guitar work. Well, I believe David Gilmour will be very happy with this track because his style has been wonderfully adopted by the band. I am totally happy with this "almost" instrumental work featuring great guitar solo in excellent flow from soft to heavy and wild guitar work. I am totally nggeblak! (stunned and paralyzed .comfortably numb and dumb!). The ending part of this track is like a reprise of "Fading Colours".

"Bright green" (4:00) is a po rock track. The album concludes with "Softer than brown" (5:02) which has nice acoustic guitar work and great male vocal. The music reminds me to Pink Floyd "Obscured by Clouds" style.

Overall, this is definitely an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Fans of Pink Floyd will find this album is inspiring even though Mostly Autumn does not fully embrace the music of Pink Floyd, but most of their tracks here share similar nuance with Pink Floyd music. Highly recommended album. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#183913)
Posted Sunday, September 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars First of all I can't understand the logic behind a double release. Do they want to let people save money by putting the worst tracks on an optional second CD? Do they think that only the hard fans have the right to listen to all their material (the double CD edition was available only if pre-ordered on the MA website)? However I had a lot of expectations for this album, the first double Mostly Autumn and the first after the change of musical direction represented by "Storm Over Still Waters".

Well the first impact was quite disappointing. They didn't impress me at the first shot, something that happened with almost all the previous studio albums, including the non- essential "Lord of the Rings", but at the second try I realized that the songs have found their alternative way. I mean that it was like I had listened to it as much as to the previous albums.

Strange, isn't it? It's like I have perceived the songs at subliminal level, or maybe the songs have elements so common in the 70s prog that it's like I have ever known them.

The "regular" CD is opened by "Fading Colours". The guitar is heavy and this time Gilmour seems to have been forgotten, but the melody is strong and Heather is sublime as usual. Not too different from its predecessor, and now, after years, I can't say immediately if this song is here or in another album as it's a standard MA song.

"Half A Word" starts acoustic with the album title as first sentence.I think it's the best song of both the discs, with connections to Pink Floyd and to Renaissance and a strong early 70s flavor.

I don't like much "Pocket Watch", instead. Not that's totally bad, but it's the kind of Bryan Josh stuff that I like less even if I have to say that's probably the song more similar to David Gilmour that he has written, also in the vocal part. Try to imagine Sir David singing, at least until the chorus, that's the part of the song that I prefer.

"Blue Light" is only an omonimy. It's a slow and dreamy song more in the vein of Sally Oldfield, nothing to do with the orchestral funky of "About Face".

"Walk With A Storm" starts dark, like it was taken from The Wall, but is also very melodic and the vocal duet between Bryan and Heather here works very well. It's another jump back to the 70s.

"Find The Sun" features a guest violin and classic guitar. A temporary return to the origins, as this song could fit well in their debut "For All We Shared".

"Ghost" starts dark but turns immediately into a sort of chorus based on major chords. As often happens Heather sings the chorus and the rest is sung by Bryan. I think that the mood of the chorus is too different from the rest of the song, like they are two different songs tied together.

"Broken" is a long piano/vocals song like some Renaissance's ("At The Harbour" to mention one). A good song well tailored for Heather.

"Silver Glass" Starts like a follow-up of "Broken". One of the most floydian moments of the album until Chris Johnson's voice. She has a very nice voice but I don't understand why using another female vocalist when you have Heather Findlay in the band... Another slow-dreamy-70s song.

"Dreaming" belongs to the rock side of Bryan Josh that's as I have written before the side that I like less, however the song is quite hypnotic and the chorus is one of those which remain into your mind even after hours.

About the second CD I had the opportunity to listen to it when borrowed from a friend, but I don't remember it as much as it's needed for a review. I've been impressed by the first track, "Science and Machinery" because it's different from the usual MA songs, and I remember to have appreciated a lot "Gaze". However let's ignore the "Limited Edition". Sticking on the first CD it's more than just good, specially because of the early 70s thing, but not enough to be considered an absolute "excellent addition"

3.5 stars more or less.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#507494)
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
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Symphonic Team
4 stars "Heart Full of Sky" is not one of the most popular Mostly Autumn albums but is quite a relaxing journey with Findlay sounding gorgeous on vocals and some majestic symphonic prog.

Fading Colours is a majesty of symphonic strings and Findlay's golden tones. An epic composition with grandiose orchestration and the longest song on the album; perhaps the best on offer here.

Half A World a bit repetitious but builds nicely into some uplifting melodies and Josh's soaring guitar solo, always worth waiting for. The key change helps too but the lyrics could have been better.

Pocket Watch has a strong steady beat and male vox and a dirty guitar sound grinding along with some piano lines. A very different sound for the band, more accessible as they inject some rock into the album.

Blue Light has a laid back soft approach with reverberating keyboards, chimes and gentle guitars. Findlay is beautiful on these dreamy ballads and harmonises well with other vocals. The flute is gorgeous and overall it is among the more melancholy compositions of the band. The lead break at the end is incredible!

Walk With A Storm is another of the longer tracks, a slow track with heavier guitar distortion and flute. Josh and Heather sing a duet and it has a darker feel in the lyrics and melody; "I don't want to see her die, I just want to walk by her side, on and on we're gonna fly, through blazing summer rain". It is an odd song with crawling tempo and ominous musicianship. I particularly like the shimmering organ and overall atmosphere on this one, especially when it speeds up and violin enters, and definitely that very bleak melody that peaks towards the end. This is the band at their most darkest, and it is a grand track on this album, a definitive highlight.

Find The Sun has more dark stormy atmospheres, beginning with dramatic violin, piano tinkling and thunder crashes. The guitar tones are as crystal as Heather's gentle tones. Again this one is dreamy with lulling melodies and sleepy musicianship. Peter Knight on violin is a master and shines brilliantly on this track.

Ghost has whispered vox of Josh at first and then builds into a new time sig as Findlay joins in. The creepy melodies are haunting and mysterious. I like the way the sig changes in this and the tune is catchy. It ends with quite an ethereal melody that is meant to have that ghostly atmosphere.

Broken is a melancholy sad solo from Heather with a lonely piano. She sounds serene and composed softly singing about coming to terms with isolation and loss, as a mother and child are separated.

Silver Glass begins with piano and flute beauty, and then gorgeous vocals from Chris Johnson. The imagery in the lyrics is compelling; "there's a glow beneath and its seething through the dark, where the mind and the soul have no boundary at all, shining silver glass in a void and covered sky." I really love Chris's vocals that are angelic and atmospheric. Josh launches into a great guitar solo and enhances the composition. It sounds like Pink Floyd and yet retains that folk precocity.

Further From Home follows next, another melancholy track opening with piano and Uilleann pipes. Josh augments it with nice string bends that soar heavenly, and sounding like Gilmour. This is mainly an instrumental and a very emotional piece of music. The guitar domination is awesome, perhaps some of the bluesiest Mostly Autumn music. Later vox return with the same glorious melody heard earlier.

Last song on the journey is Dreaming, sung by Findlay and Josh, with some heavy guitar riffs driving it along. This is the heaviest track on the album, especially the guitars and vocals style. The lyrics are thought provoking; "How can you fly when you've got no wings, and there's no escape from the burning flames." The lead break comes in as a new time sig floats along and Findlay returns.

Overall this album is one of the more melancholy albums after a blazing start. The songs are dreamy and have dark nuances. It is certainly a decent album to plunge into, and very lengthy, with some of the band's most beautiful and stirring compositions.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#839998)
Posted Thursday, October 18, 2012 | Review Permalink

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