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The Wishing Tree - Ostara CD (album) cover

OSTARA

The Wishing Tree

Prog Related


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lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is the second Steve Rothery side project, and it is exceptionally enjoyable. It would have been the easiest thing in the world for Rothery to treat this as a purely solo project and entirely dominate proceedings, but that is absolutely not the case with this album. All songs were co written with Hannah Stobart, who is a very talented vocalist and lyricist. The album also features Paul Craddick on drums, backing vocals by Jo Rothery, and keyboards by Mike Hunter (in addition to those recorded by Rothery). This feels like a band, and is all the better for it.

Stobart has a lovely ethereal quality to her voice, which first becomes very evident on Easy, which features some delicate and ghostly vocal harmonies.

Rothery excels himself, playing some fine acoustic guitars, and, it has to be said, bass guitar - as much as I admire and love Trewavas' playing, Rothery can also play very well, this being especially true of Fly which features a great bass line.

Some tracks, inevitably, have that Marillion feel, especially the beginning of Fly, but Stobart is as far away from Fish and Hogarth as it is possible to get, and this is by no means meant as a criticism. It is difficult to make comparisons with other artists with her voice, but a young Stevie Nicks does come to mind somewhat when listening to her.

When Rothery does let go with one of his trademark solos, he, as ever, makes the instrument sing. The middle of Fly has a gorgeous solo, before it settles in to Rothery being content to play a lovely backdrop to the vocals. Seventh Sign has a great bluesy feel to it, both with the earthy guitar and the vocals. You would also swear that Trewavas supplied the bass, it's that good.

Hollow Hills is the longest track at 6.21 minutes, and is a lovely melodic track, featuring mandolin and understated guitars again providing an understated backdrop to the vocals which are layered perfectly.

You really get in to the feel of the duo listening to the final track, Soldier, which features the acoustic guitar, played wonderfully, backing Stobart's story. An incredible ballad.

Kingfisher is very Celtic in its outlook, and the melody is fantastic, with a fine, albeit short, Rothery solo midway through.

This is a hugely enjoyable album. I downloaded it from the Marillion website for the mere sum of Ł5.99, and it is worth every penny.

It's very difficult to say who would enjoy this. Certainly fans, like myself, of Rothery's work with Marillion will lap this up, whilst also enjoying the distinct contrast between his band input and this, and I also believe that fans of bands such as Mostly Autumn (in their calmer moments), Karnataka, and the like, and also Fleeetwood Mac will gain a lot of satisfaction from this LP. Really, all visitors to the site who appreciate the more melodic brand of prog will find this very worthwhile.

I am going to give this four stars, although 4.5 in reality.

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Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#206923)
Posted Friday, March 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Thirteen years after their original collaboration on Carnival Of Souls, Marillion's Steve Rothery and Hannah Stobart have reunited for Ostara. It's a truly beautiful album and one of the more pleasant surprises of 2009.

Don't be expecting anything along the lines of Marillion though; in fact if it wasn't for the involvement of Rothery it's doubtful if this would have a place on Prog Archives. This album is simply all about the songs with no excess flash or baggage with Stobart's gorgeously pure voice taking centre stage. Rothery plays most of the instruments, though not drums which are played with subtle restraint by Paul Craddick. Rothery though happy to take a back seat plays with his usual understated and tasteful style with a mixture of acoustic and electric guitar, bass and some of the keyboard work too, the rest played by mike Hunter.

The songs are highly melodic and beautifully crafted light rock with some folk inflections. The album is pretty much one pace though with a laid back vibe but this works in its favour making it an ideal record to chill out too when you want something easy on the ears. It certainly wasn't a problem for me as Hannah Stobart weaves her vocal magic around the delicate melodies and graceful backing vocals are the icing on the cake, mainly handled by Stobart with some help from Jo Rothery. Steve Rothery adds the occasional guitar solo, always tastefully executed in keeping with overall vibe.

Ostara is a consistently strong album largely lacking any particular highs and lows though my own personal favourites are Easy, which reminds me of American alternative country rockers Hazeldine and Fly. Particularly impressive on Fly is the way Stobart weaves her voice around the haunting and lilting melody; truly lovely.

Ostara has turned out to be one of my favourite albums of 2009 and will certainly make my top 10. Hopefully I won't have to wait another 13 years for the next one.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#250285)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Matti
COLLABORATOR
Neo-Prog Team
2 stars I ordered this album to my library but it was mostly a waste. Not only it is rarely borrowed, I myself didn't much enjoy it. WISHING TREE is a side project of Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery teaming up with singer Hannah Stobart. Her voice is okay - though I wouldn't quite compare her to Heather Findlay of Mostly Autumn - but the problem is, everything about this album is just okay, nothing more. I listened to it for a couple of times but there was absolutely nothing to get excited about. If I heard a track on the car radio I probably wouldn't pay much attention.

"Prog Related" is a big exaggeration. This is just harmless pop with supposedly some folkish feel and with nice guitar centred sound - naturally - but extremely forgettable when it comes to the song writing. Somehow it felt like American AOR. I know, I should have given it more listenings really, but in these matters I'm usually very remorseless: music has to make SOME (no matter how faint) impression in the first listening to gain more. Sorry.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#291177)
Posted Tuesday, July 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This new release Steve Rothery's The Wishing Tree side project sees him and collaborator Hannah Stobart - along with a selection of guest musicians which includes their two spouses - producing a pleasant acoustic folk rock album with mildly proggy, mildly gothy touches - a bit like an even more folk-focused incarnation of All About Eve. (Apparently, when Steve was originally considering an acoustic-themed side project he originally approached Julianne Regan of All About Eve but she wasn't interested.) If you're coming here expecting wild neo- prog guitar solos of the sort Rothery has made his trademark, you'll be disappointed, but Rothery and Stobart do a great job of producing the type of music they' set out to create here.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#740560)
Posted Sunday, April 22, 2012 | Review Permalink

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