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Mostly Autumn

Prog Folk

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1 stars By far the weakest cd of the band. I played it only 3 of 4 times and the spirit of Pink Floyd has dissapeared in favor of Fleetwood Mac. Let us hope they will go back to more "celtic space prog". Bryan Josh is the spiritual son of David Gilmour.
Report this review (#19136)
Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Though they have left the Pink Floyd leanings behind, you have to admire the strength and qiuality of song. This has enabled them to find their own voice. Stand out tracks are Distant Train and Answer The Question. Also it has proved to be a showcase for the singing talents of Heather Findlay. In conclusion a good solid foundation for which to build on.
Report this review (#19137)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ok, this isn't pure prog. There are some "straight" songs, but any prog fan should like this record. It is full of great songs, and a lot of prog-elements too. The only song I didn't like that much was track no 2, "Pure White Light", as it sounded a bit too much like radio-rock to me.. But the rest are all great. Songs like "Pass the Clock", "Caught in a fold" and "Simple Ways" are just magnificent. Powered with a good performance by the band and the angel-like voice of vocalist Heather Findlay, this album is well worth a listen, or many listens. Buy it!
Report this review (#19139)
Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars A very good solid album! I love Floyd, and I know the band leave some Floyd-view on some songs, but the album is very honest. Distant Train and Passangers are two of the most beautiful tracks of the band career. Sorry for my poor english..

É um disco sólido e honesto. A banda está numa fase diferente, e largaram um pouco a visão Floydiana e as pitadas de Waters e Gilmour, entretanto, as faixas Passengers e Distant Traind são duas das mais bonitas da banda.

Report this review (#19140)
Posted Monday, January 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yes this is the poorest studio album from the band so far. Saying that it is still a superb album. Powerfull vocals, mostly by Heather Findlay, compliment the excellent musicianship of the band. The tracks vary from beatifully constructed ballads to catchy rock songs. Fans of the band may miss the slightly folky style of previous albums, which are almost totally abscent, but don't be put off. This is a classic, as are the band.
Report this review (#19141)
Posted Tuesday, February 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars In many ways, an excellent CD, but also a disappointment. I personally loved the Celtic- Folk edge to their music, and this CD turns away from that to a more purely rock edge. At first I found the CD somewhat disappointing, with the change ofmusical direction, and would have initially given it 3 stars. However, over time, and many more listens, I have learned to appreciate the CD and now give it 4 stars. There are some excellent songs on this disc, particularly Bitterness Burnt, Caught In A Fold, Simple Ways, Passengers, Answer The Question and Pass The Clock 1, 2 & 3. Pure White Light shows that there is still a strong PINK FLOYD influence to this group as it is somewhat reminicent of early Syd Barrett era Floyd. The best direction change on this CD is that Heather Findlay is becoming more and more the lead vocalist. While Bryan Josh is an effective singer, Findlay's voice is beautiful. Unlike their prior studio releases (except for Music Inspired By the Lord of the Rings), there is no true epic on this CD. Pass the Clock really comes across as 3 seperate, but related songs, and isn't really an epic like The Night Sky and Heroes Never Die from For All We Shared; The Gap is Too Wide from Spirit of Autumn Past; and Mother Nature from The Last Bright Light. Overall I prefer their first 3 studio releases mentioned above, and I'm very curious as to what direction their next CD will take.
Report this review (#19142)
Posted Thursday, March 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Mediocre album but not because of changing style into more straightforward rock. I can appreciate good pop rock stuff from prog rock band but this simply is not a strong release. Also song-oriented, unexpected album "Music Inspired by the LotR" is far better.
Report this review (#19143)
Posted Friday, March 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Chida In many ways, an excellent CD, but also a disappointment. I personally loved the Celtic- Folk edge to their music, and this CD turns away from that to a more purely rock edge. At first I found the CD somewhat disappointing, with the change ofmusical direction, and would have initially given it 3 stars. However, over time, and many more listens, I have learned to appreciate the CD and now give it 4 stars. There are some excellent songs on this disc, particularly Bitterness Burnt, Caught In A Fold, Simple Ways, Passengers, Answer The Question and Pass The Clock 1, 2 & 3. Pure White Light shows that there is still a strong PINK FLOYD influence to this group as it is somewhat reminicent of early Syd Barrett era Floyd. The best direction change on this CD is that Heather Findlay is becoming more and more the lead vocalist. While Bryan Josh is an effective singer, Findlay's voice is beautiful. Unlike their prior studio releases (except for Music Inspired By the Lord of the Rings), there is no true epic on this CD. Pass the Clock really comes across as 3 seperate, but related songs, and isn't really an epic like The Night Sky and Heroes Never Die from For All We Shared; The Gap is Too Wide from Spirit of Autumn Past; and Mother Nature from The Last Bright Light. Overall I prefer their first 3 studio releases mentioned above, and I'm very curious as to what direction their next CD will take. In many ways, an excellent CD, but also a disappointment. I personally loved the Celtic- Folk edge to their music, and this CD turns away from that to a more purely rock edge. At first I found the CD somewhat disappointing, with the change ofmusical direction, and would have initially given it 3 stars. However, over time, and many more listens, I have learned to appreciate the CD and now give it 4 stars. There are some excellent songs on this disc, particularly Bitterness Burnt, Caught In A Fold, Simple Ways, Passengers, Answer The Question and Pass The Clock 1, 2 & 3. Pure White Light shows that there is still a strong PINK FLOYD influence to this group as it is somewhat reminicent of early Syd Barrett era Floyd. The best direction change on this CD is that Heather Findlay is becoming more and more the lead vocalist. While Bryan Josh is an effective singer, Findlay's voice is beautiful. Unlike their prior studio releases (except for Music Inspired By the Lord of the Rings), there is no true epic on this CD. Pass the Clock really comes across as 3 seperate, but related songs, and isn't really an epic like The Night Sky and Heroes Never Die from For All We Shared; The Gap is Too Wide from Spirit of Autumn Past; and Mother Nature from The Last Bright Light. Overall I prefer their first 3 studio releases mentioned above, and I'm very curious as to what direction their next CD will take.
Report this review (#19145)
Posted Tuesday, April 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars If you can forget the first two song ever existed, then what you have here is a great blend of folk-rock songs with a progressive twist. This album is probably Mostly Autumn most original work. However, that came with a price, which was the loss of the space-folk- prog they managed to transmit us on previous recordings, going for a heavier sound. This album is not as strong or cohese as others, but it is a good pack of some very good songs. The production is also top notch, although some might say the sound is too polished. The singing is more Heather Findley dominated than any album before. Like I said, apart from the first two, we have very good songs. "Another life" borrows some lovely guitar sounds from Pink Floyd's "Breathe". "Bitterness Burnt" and "Caught in a Fold" are the folkier tunes, the first a nice acoustic piece with ambient keybords in the back, the second similar to some charged-up song out of a Blackmore's Night album. These three songs are exclusively sung by Heather. "Simple Ways" and "First Thought" are two nice prog-rockers, with great solos from Josh, followed by "Passengers", a gentler tune also ending with a floydian performance by Bryan Josh. Then come the "mini-epics", "Distant Train/Answer the Question" and "Pass the Clock". "Distant Train" starts as a lovely ambient keybord experiment, that soon burst into an electric guitar monster, that begins to fade in the end, just to reborn as "Answer the Question" begins, carrying the tune, which features some barroque notes, to a typical Josh guitar solo ending. "Pass the Clock" finishes the album (or pack of songs, as I consider it) as a long piece, with lots a sound and harmony variations, culminating in a folky end that I am quite fond of. Overall, I would find this album good, but non-essential in a Progger's collection (especially if he's into Yes). But since I write this thinking of me, I prefer to raise the stakes a little bit and give it an "excellent addition" rating instead.
Report this review (#47304)
Posted Monday, September 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album, as Mostly Autumn generally, is criminally underrated. I don't see how so many people write them off as uninspiring and boring; to me this is a great album, with a beautiful and warm atmosphere and an uplifting general mood.

The band doesn't play very technical music, they tend to concentrate on creating pleasant soundscapes and enjoyable songs. Although I consider this album to be at least proggy, quite a few of the songs are indeed very straight-forward and the songwriting is pop-like.

That doesn't take anything away from the brilliance of this album, though. The compositions are very strong throughout the album, and there really are no weak spots. All of the songwriters have really succeeded, Heather Findlay and Bryan Josh as well as Iain Jennings. The music varies from beautiful acoustic parts to strong melodies.

The epic album closer "Pass the Clock" is the standout track, absolutely amazing. It has all the elements of Mostly Autumn's music combined with strong, emotional lyrics. Over it's 12 minute duration it really shows a lot of emotion and it certainly never leaves me cold. This one is also the proggiest of the bunch.

All in all, a very strong album. ****

Report this review (#55739)
Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have read quite a bit about this band in the last couple of years - they have been touted as 'the next Pink Floyd' due mainly to Bryan Josh's guitar work. Well, a friend lent me this cd last week, and I have played it a few times, trying to find the link. It has to be said it is tenuous at best - occasionally Josh does play a little like Gilmour, and vocally he can, on rare occasions, recall to the listener a Gilmour type of voice, but these moments are few and far between. It can be said, with equal validity, that his guitar style owes just as much to Steve Rothery and Marillion. And when did Floyd ever have a female vocalist like Heather Findley? No, I find this group should be taken on its own merits, and not on lukewarm comparisons. (Of course, I haven't heard their earlier stuff; maybe that is more Floyd-like.) This band are, indeed, a cross between folk-rock and straightforward rock, to these ears. I was racking my brains, trying to think who Heather Findley reminded me of, and then it came to me - now and again, she has a tone in her voice reminiscent of Julianne Regan, of All About Eve. There is sometimes a Clannad feel to the atmosphere here, and, as I said before, sometimes a Marillion tone to proceedings. The first two tracks are straightforward rockers, neither being either forgettable, nor classics. When we get to the third song, however, 'Another Life' things improve. This is a slower song, nicely sung by Miss Findley, and ended with superb guitar from Mr Josh. A good song. 'Bitterness Burnt' is another uptempo, but less rocky track, and then 'Caught In A Fold' turns the proceedings heavier, with, again, powerful guitar work. 'Simple Ways' is a decent, mid-paced song, and 'First Thought' is likewise more than average. The title track is another good 'un, mid paced again, then comes one of the two highlights for me - the brilliant instrumental, 'Distant Train'. Here we have a classic Rothery-style guitar-led track, very nice and melodic. 'Answer The Question' is uptempo again, and I like this one also. Finally comes the other highlight, the three parter 'Pass The Clock' which is far and away the most progressive track here, with nice mood changes and atmospheres, and superb singing from Findlay. It climaxes wonderfully, and brings the album to a strong end. For me, an album is always better if the first and the last tracks are memorable. Well, the opener here is average, but the closer is superb. I also borrowed off my friend Storm Over Still Waters, their latest, which fans seem to prefer over this one. I personally don't. I think this one much stronger. Worth a listen, but with the proviso - don't expect a Floyd-clone. There are many bands who sound more like Floyd than these do.
Report this review (#74440)
Posted Saturday, April 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars It has taken me quite a while to get into this album. I bought it at one of the bands concerts I attended where it was sold to me as a masterpiece. Well, it isn't. And therefore I was strongly disappointed and did not listen to it for some months. Yet then I decided to give it another try and it turned out that I liked it quite a lot.


I think that a lot of followers expected to hear another 'Spirits' or 'Last bright light'. The band decided however to record a totally different album where the folk influences would be at best in the background. Furhtermore most of the tracks are rather short. Both changes are a pity but turn out for the good in the end. The opener 'Somewhere in between' is a nice up-tempo song, nothing special and certainly not a strong opener. It is actually not typical MA at all but could have been recorded by many bands. Heather Findlay's vocals are good, for the rest it is mediocre. The same holds truth for 'Pure white light' where Brain Josh takes over the lead vocals. He shouldn't do that for he is not a very talented singer at all while Heather Findlay is an extremely good vocalist. It think that the song would have been far nicer when Findlay had sung it. From that point on the album really catches up not to fall back again. 'Another life' and 'Bitterness burnt' are two very beautiful slow ballads, showing Heather at her best (and that's good!) and the instrumentation no more than necessary. The melodies are great, the lyrics grasping. 'Caught in a fold' is another up-tempo song with a good melody this time that is a nice bridge towards the next slow song, 'Simple ways'. Here MA is at their best, with good guitars and very nice vocals. The title track is a melody that will not leave your head once you have heard it twice. It is catching, slow, beautiful and very, very strong, worth to bear the title of the album. The instrumental 'Distant train' is not very special but very enjoyable. The last track, the only 'epic' on the album, is not their strongest long song and it is also somewhat different in atmosphere. Here the long guitar solo is present but also a long coda with clocks and things like that. It is good but not as good as 'Heroes' for instance.

So all in all you have to be prepared to skip the first two songs or just to keep listening. Then the album will prove its real value and you can enjoy beautiful music. It is a shame though that the band diminishes their folk influences. But on this album it is not as bad as in its successor, 'Storms over still water'. So this a really a good album, at least 3.5 stars!!

Report this review (#111181)
Posted Friday, February 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is definitely another Mostly Autumn featured here. More commercial like in "Something In Between" and harder than never like in "Pure White Light". I would say that I do not really dislike this new orientation. In previous efforts, I often had the feeling that their numbers were too long and a bit dull at times.

Of course, the Floydian sound is less present on this work, although "Another Life" features again a great Gilmouresque solo and is really a beautiful song. We'll be switched back to their celtic roots with "Bitterness Burnt", a true folk song in MA tradition. What immediately strikes the minds, is the format of their songs. While they were mostly long ones before (except on "LOTR"), what we'll get here are rather short songs. As if they were looking to write radio format music.

"Caught In A Fold" is again on the harder edge. At least I can not complain that we risk to feel asleep when listening to MA (like I did for their LOTR "inspired" album). But not falling asleep does not always mean listening to great music. The following number (one the three longer songs) "Simple Ways" is a dull folk ballad. Monotonous like some of their previous work even if Heather shares the vocals. The finale with the strong vocal arrangements will somewhat save the song.

The first guitar notes of "First Thought" reminds me "Run Like Hell". The track will evolve into a very nice and melodic song. Rhythmy and with Heather in great shape. I really like her voice. Full of poetry and so beautiful. Some good guitar work (like who you know, right?).

The title track (the second one clocking over six minutes) is another folk ballad. Almost normally, this average track will be saved (yes, you have guessed correctly) by another great guitar break from David Gilmour, ouuups sorry, from Bryan Josh.

"Distant Train" is a dull instrumental piece for half of it and the poorest one on this album until the traditional guitar part comes to the rescue. Again, a great job. But they should only release half songs if for lots of them, it is the only the interesting part! I made this comment already in my review for "LOTR".

I could make the same comment again for "Answer The Question" with the exception that the finale is keyboard oriented .

The closing number "Pass The Clock" is made of three movements. Each one pretty easy to identify and being almost another song. It started all mellow during the first one (almost three minutes), then furiously rock for the second one. Keys are really powerful and rhythm is fantastic. Reminds me the good old Kansas days with the violin play during the quieter and instrumental section. The last portion of this part being very, very quiet. At this time, I can not consider this as one and single track any longer.

Too many parts that does not fit well to make a whole. The last section will have exactly the same characteristics : changing at least three times from mood (but reminding some of the early ones, do you still follow me?).

This album still holds some Floydian flavour of course, but probably less than in earlier work. On the contrary of their previous releases (except on "LOTR" ,again) there won't be any great songs featured on this one. Nothing such as "We Come & Go", "Heroes Never Die" or "The Gap Is Too Wide" for instance. Just a collection of average to good songs. Of course none is poor; but this is not sufficent to make a very good album. The essence of the band is still there : very nice vocal harmonies and great musicianship (especially the lead guitar of course).

Newcomers should not start with this album. The reference for them should be the fantastic double CD compilation "Catch The Spirit". All in all a decent and diversified album. Three stars.

Report this review (#123120)
Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The 11th masterpiece!

I had the review of this album pretty well written before I even heard it. I had read the reviews on this site and was planning something like "classic rock society filthy lucre ruins amzing Celtic folk prog band". It was clear that this was the runt of Mostly Autumn's litter so I delayed buying it, and when I finally did, and put it on the CD player it was with some trepidation. I had heard some of the songs live and they sounded great, but our reviewers don't lie, do they? I figured that the rest of the tracks must be throwaway rubbish.

One hour later, I pressed the replay button convinced that this was one of the best albums ever. Not a weak track; lovely melodies, great vocal work from Heather Findlay (and even, on occasions, Bryan Josh!), lush keyboards, trademark lead solos and driving rhythms. Highlights are Bitterness Burnt, Answer the Question, the instrumental Distant Train and the Pass the Clock trilogy. But the surpises, and the best tracks, are two that I'd never heard anywhere: The Simple Ways, with its haunting lyrics and keyboard soaked outro, and First Thought. Sure there are hints of other bands styles; the comparison to Pink Floyd won't die, even though it's extremely tenuous and based on influence and guitar style rather than song style, and there are hints of Fleetwood Mac in the opener (but I love FM anyway, so that's great). But Mostly Autumn are actually quite unlike any other band in their blend of styles. The folk/Celtic influences are still very much there, with uillean pipes and violin in Pass the Clock part 2. If there's a criticism at all, it's that Angela Goldthorpe's flute is a bit underused; when it comes into play, it shines.

All of which poses me a dilemma. When I joined this site I determined that I would not rate every album I liked 5 stars but would discriminate rigidly and allocate only 10 masterpieces, all of which I had identified. But this was before I heard this, and this is unquestionably a masterpiece by any standard. So an exception must be made. Far from the runt, this may well be the pick of the litter.

Report this review (#151592)
Posted Sunday, November 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Here is a leading example of a group becoming harder to get into as they become more polished, refined and commercially viable. That happens a lot in Progland where external and internal forces create havoc with the original spirit behind the choice or direction of their musical craft. In some cases like Iona, they get better with time, more progressive and experimental, constantly searching new subtleties and taking their sweet time (like fine wine) in doing so. Others like Karnataka simply disband because of a lack of band stamina or perceived fan interest. With Mostly Autumn, we have reverse progression, as many other fans have also noticed the trend away from their fabulous debut album "For All We Shared", a shimmering set of evocative Celtic-tinged, Floyd-fed longish tunes that were sheer pleasure from beginning to end. Their second offering , "Spirits of Autumn Past" had some more amazing tunes but seemed to lack that "spirit" that characterizes their unique brand of prog-folk. In fact, as the lovely and supremely talented Heather Findlay took a larger role on the lead microphone, the third "The Last Bright Light" again was perceived as being just too slick despite a slew of truly great songs. Touring feverishly started giving them an opportunity at mainstream popularity and they altered their once original recipe with this hard to figure album. "Passengers" is again the same conundrum: just too overtly safe, eschewing the unpretentious humor and risk-taking character of that debut album (the pub story opening for "Out of the Inn" or the fiddle led jig). The opening two tracks are poor Josh compositions: "Something in Between" is a short radio-friendly tune that has a blah effect that does nothing in terms of excitement or mood. "Pure White Light" is too brashly trashy, really not suited for this band regardless of the ongoing Floydian influence, with Josh's vocals just too contrived, a sloppy guitar solo to boot. Mostly Awful. Finally, the contrasting "Another Life", (note: an Iain Jennings penned tune) is worthy of the band's finer moments with a melody that has emotion (Josh's solo just soars majestically) and a Findlay delivery that adds a dreamy restrained quality that deserves the highest praise. A little cello doesn't hurt either! "Bitterness Burnt" is a ravishing folkish Findlay composition on par or even better than the previous "Evergreen", with a flute and violin-led lament that conjures convincingly the sorrowful melancholia of forgiveness, proving again that smoky ballads are the band's forte (plus she's an elegant and ravishing beauty, just ask Fish). "Caught in a Fold" is a return to the raunchier material but Heather makes this a convincing exercise with a whopping flute bred melody sounding almost like a Jethro Tull tune but with strong female vocals and a slight bluesy inflection that is utterly charming. Josh's solo is brief but fiery. Nice stuff. "Simple Ways" is a technically simple song that has nevertheless a great amount of appeal, loaded with choppy synthesizers, chopping drums and chirping guitar, swirling winds and an almost bombastic refrain that is hard to resist. The keyboard heavy dreamy finale is one of the highlights, exuding a unique epic quality that has a classic "War of the Worlds" feel to it. "First Thought" is a whirling piece that would have needed a different arrangement as the emotion is just not there despite Heather pleading vocals, with another surprisingly flaccid Josh solo. Hey Bryan, what's going on? Listening to Traffic's "Sometimes I feel so Uninspired" or what? The title track is a grandiose piece that finally showcases this band's strengths, great piano playing, a massive melody that is not easy to master with Findlay showing her considerable talent and a towering Josh guitar excursion that expresses with a few bent ripped notes, the pain of the plaintive universe (There you go, Bryan, that's better). This album's strongest track is the temperamental instrumental "Distant Train", again written by the genial Iain Jennings, a colossal masterpiece that will stand the test of time as one of the greatest pieces of modern prog, containing all those little pleasure buttons all progressive fans wish to have pressed. Swooning atmospherics highly evocative of that faraway railroad, chugging rhythms, fascinating flute and a chorus melody to absolutely kneel to, sliced by a bleeding Bryan Josh solo that has Gilmour's rage, Latimer's passion and Manzanera's flair. Delicious. "Answering the Question" is a return to the harder realms of Mostly Autumn's new direction and it remains unconvincing, to my ears anyway. I rather dislike Josh's repetitively whispered vocals and the simplistic melody, with the plodding drums saved only by some decent piano playing. "Pass the Clock" is a three piece suite that fails to register despite all the proper perimeters (some old Genesis tidbits on flute and organ, gorgeous Uilleann pipe work from Troy Donockley of Iona fame), ruined by poor Josh vocals in Part 2 that again don't pass muster, totally unconvincing, even with some resourceful piano and violin work and a very relaxed exit. The third part plods along with another rather predictable guitar solo that fills the gaps instead of creating new fertile ground. As much as I truly admire Mr. Josh, this album is not his finest hour. We are not progressing here, and I am a fan. Track 3 to 9 is literally 5 stars but the rest could have been so much better. Sigh. 3.5 semaphores.
Report this review (#167762)
Posted Thursday, April 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars The follow up to the exceptionally good The Last Bright Light, this is one of the few albums that I have ever pre-ordered, and I awaited it with baited breath when released back in 2003. I love this band, but still have mixed feelings about the overall quality of the whole. Some is sublime, whilst other parts are throwaway.

The opener Somewhere in Between and its successor Pure White Light are good examples. Both see the band trying their utmost to become more than a band regarded as an interesting prog folk outfit with heavy Floyd leanings, into a band that has a good chance of getting airplay on BBC Radio 2. Both are very radio friendly, the first Findlay led, the second with Josh. Neither are bad tracks - they don't make bad music - but they are very untypical of what they are and are capable of producing.

Another Life is far more like it. Co written by Findlay and Iain Jennings, who is in my opinion a very underrated and unsung keyboardist, this is a fine ballad. Heather Findlay has the most lovely and ethereal voice, and she uses it to great effect on this, a tribute to her dead father. The Josh solo towards the end, followed by the keyboard moods and Findlay's chants, are fantastic.

Bitterness Brunt features the great Angela Goldthorpe, now sadly gone from the band, accompanying Findlay on the flute. This track is very Celtic in its tone and outlook and would not have been out of place on the predecessor work. I love the violin at the end of the track.

Caught in a Fold is more rockier, and proves that Findlay can belt out the vocals with the best of them. Jennings is in fine "Jon Lord" form on the Hammond, and the track has great Josh work and flute working in harmony. Not great, a filler, but good nonetheless. The mid flute section could almost be Jethro Tull in their heyday.

The Simple Ways reverts to a Bryan Josh vocal. He does take some getting used to, but the perseverance is worth it, and this track has him and Findlay harmonising very nicely. Another reversion to their Celtic roots, this is good. I also think that Josh should be regarded as a great guitarist in his own right, and not merely as a Gilmour clone. He is far too good and original for that, and the solo midway through again proves this. The flute again features very strongly as the track fades into his final two minutes, and Jennings is once again superb on keyboards, creating a lush and full mood and sound.

First Thought follows. This features some fine guitar backing to a quite mournful and lovely Findlay vocal. This track reminds one of why a lot of people listening to the band wish she sang on every track!

The title track proves it even more strongly. One of the finest tracks this great band have ever produced, Findlay's vocals thoughout are delicate and fragile. Jennings is again on fine form, with a wall of keyboard sound and delicate piano, in turns, backing her, before Josh again shows us just how good he is with an incredible solo to close the song. Fantastic and essential - even if you don't want to "risk" buying the whole album, make sure you download this track alone.

Although only five minutes long, Distant Train is perhaps a tad too long. Reminiscent of Mike Oldfield at the start, this track is rescued by some fine Josh guitars at the end. All fans of classic, hard, and heavy rock will love this sequence.

Answer The Question is rockier and a poorer track, and one the album could have done without. I think this album would be worth an easy four + stars at ten tracks. This is one of the tracks which reduces that rating.

And so to the three part conclusion of the album, Pass The Clock. Absolutely superb, this is the reason why I love this band. Part One is quiet with Josh & Findlay harmonising very well, backed by acoustic guitars and piano. Part Two picks up the pace, and Jennings again excels on the organ. More strings add an almost Romany texture to the mid section, before the riffs calm away to more moody piano and acoustic guitars. Chris Leslie plays the violin, and damn fine he is too. Part Three is a great end to a great track. Both vocalists contribute so much, it is exceedingly simple and all the more effective for that. Relentlessly upbeat, especially the incredible Josh guitar break proving he is very much his own man with his own signature sound.

This is not as good as The Last Bright Light. It is, though, still a fine LP, and I would rate this at 3.5 stars. For the sake of not being seen as too partisan to a band I love, I will round this down to a three star rating for the site. Very good, but there are better places to start if you have never heard them before.

Report this review (#215408)
Posted Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars After initial disappointment and an appropriate cooling off period, I returned to this album recently. My initial impressions were that the song quality had lost some consistency, production was much more what one would expect from modern neo prog, crystalline and blazing with technical potency, but lacking somewhat in subtlety and profundity. In addition, Angela Goldthorpe seemed somewhat less involved, and the Celtic edge was smoothed off. These all remain true to my ears, but not always to the detriment of my enjoyment.

One of the problems with "Passengers" is that the group seem like passengers on the laser grooves for the first 3 tracks. It is true that "Last Bright Light" was a slow starter too, but here we are subject to the gamut of MA styles without any sense that this is the genuine article, almost like a tribute band that has decided to try out some original material before they are ready.

Luckily the next set of 3 is as strong as any set in the group canon, and, apart from the swashbuckling rouser "Pass the Clock Part 2", the highlight of the trip. And it is here that MA seems to have improved over what came before, debuting a more Gothic and pagan aspect of their personality in "Bitterness Burnt" and "The Simple Ways" in particular. I had always felt that Floyd and fiddles made strange bedfellows, and tended to co-exist in adjacent tracks rather than comfortably as part of the group's essence, like a couple who try too hard to indulge each other's avocations. On these cuts, the occasionally hard-edged progressive rock dances harmoniously by the delicate British Isles instrumentation and traditionally inspired melodies. In between the two is the JETHRO TULL ish "Caught in a Fold" which rocks out behind Goldthorpe's magnificent vocal work.

After this strikingly emotive outburst, the quality dips again, although not as low as on the openers. "Distant Train" is an instrumental that integrates the prior styles well and "Answer the Question" returns to the sound of "Dark Beyond the Dawn" from the previous album but without the same degree of success. The "Pass the Clock" suite contains 3 parts, but the first seems to exist to provide a buildup for the inspired second, and the third for its denouement. They are not bad, but not all that memorable.

WE could see where Mostly Autumn was heading with this disk, into a territory occupied by prog's hit makers if you will, rather than the twee fairyland of their earlier work, with fewer Celtic overtures and a more muscular build. I am not sure if it worked commercially, but what they may have gained in sales they lost in distinction, apart from the aforementioned improvement at blending the old and the new. Nonetheless, "Passengers" is worthwhile enough to keep you in your seats for the trip, if not entertaining enough to get you out of them.

Report this review (#253760)
Posted Monday, November 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars If Pink Floyd had been locked in a studio with a large collection of folk instuments, this is the sort of music they would have made. Mostly Autumn are one of the most creative and original young bands to emerge on to the rock scene for many years. With a blend of progressive guitar and keyboard sounds they create a framework on which to hang all those instuments that don`t normally get an airing in this field, violins, flute, cello, bodhran, whistles and even the bazouki. But dont be put off by that, its very much a rock sound, even at its gentler moments.

Passengers is their fourth album and continues in the same vein as their previous releases, thats not to say it is in any way repetitive or derivitive, its just that they do one thing very well and until they have full explored all the possible angles, have no need to drastically change their style. The Pink Floyd connection is a bit misleading, I guess, whilst some of the guitar passages wear that prog-rock hat with ease, they are a lot more than just a bunch of old school rockers with a guitar fixation. All the instruments have their fair share of the glory and the icing on the cake are the vocals. Heather Findlay has a georgeous voice, hints of All About Eve`s, Julianne Regan are there and whilst she has always shared vocal duties with guitarist Bryan Josh, this album sees her taking on a more dominant role which I, for one, like. Thats not to say that there is anything sub-standard about Josh`s voice, its just that some of the music lends itself more to a female harmony, that said there are some lovely joint harmonies on such tracks as Simple Ways and Answer the Question.

This is music that does not sit in any time frame, it could have been made anytime in the last thirty years, if it wasnt for the modern production of the album. It will definatly appeal to the old school and classic rock fraternity, there are hints of Tull, Fleetwood Mac and much of the approach reminds me of little known Irish band Celtus, whom I can`t recommend highly enough. The music is so wide ranging that it is difficult to find comparisons that sum them up, but that is for the good and shows an originality in their music.

Without dwelling on specific tracks the music blends all the instruments into a unique range of sounds, here a flute takes the dominant role, next single piano notes or washes of keyboards, take over, and the next moment you are whisked away by a driving rock guitar. The songs use that progressive frame of having unexpected changes of pace and timing, not for them the verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus, and relax format. These are finely constructed songs, music that has an purpose and identity of its own. It a time when music can be as shallow as a vehicle for a bunch of catchy words, or words are just something to put on a catchy tune, the depth of the words and the music stand out, both are strong enough to exist without the other.

Music that moves from haunting vocal one minute to big operatic multi instrument arrangements the next, is a rarity these days, and this band are experts of the change of pace and direction. The music is exquisit, the lyrics range from the human eye view to the mysteries of the universe, all delivered with subtlty and finess.

If Progressive Rock conjures up images of Rick Wakeman dressed as a wizard, or fourteen hour guitar solos, then this is an album and a band to re-educate yourself with.

Report this review (#394856)
Posted Saturday, February 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars I don't know if the CD that I have bought at the Cheshire Oak, Ellesmere Port(UK), years ago is a different release, but the track list is totally different from the one on PA. It starts with the last notes of Mother Nature, as all the previous MA albums start with the last notes of the preceeding one, and the first song is Caught In A Fold.

Said so, this album represents the point of no-return even though the lineup is the same of the excellent The Last Bright Light. The celtic element is almost disappeared and the band sounds more rock than on the previous albums.

"Caught In A Fold" makes it clear from the beginning. I think that Heather Findlay hasn't liked it too much as it looks like it's not on the right tonality for her voice, but her performance is excellent thanks to her great vocal skill. It's a nice folk-rock song, after all.

"Something In Between" is on similar tones, with the chorus a bit reminding to "The Forge Of Sauron" in the rhythm. It makes me think to early Renaissance. Another good rock song.

"Another Life" is the first song to be not affected by the change of direction. It's a slow ballad started by piano and Violin with another great performance of Heather Findlay and a Gilmourish guitar solo that, as often happens like on "The Gap Is Too Wide", is on a different pitch respect to the rest of the song.

"First Thought" would be very Floydian if it wasn't for Heather's voice which adds that touch of folk. One remarkable thing of this album is that Bryan limits his vocal performances to duets with Heather that's the lead vocalist on almost all the songs.

"Pure White Light" starts with a Josh's excersize to sound like Gilmour on "Run Like Hell" or better on "Blue Light". Not bad but this is one of the weakest tracks, probably because it's one of the few on which Bryan is lead singing with Heather as backing vocals.

"Simple Ways" is a 2 minutes intro to the following song: "Bitterness Burnt" is lead at vocals alternatively by Bryan and Heather and it's stronger that the previous one. It's a slow song in the line of the usual Mostly Autumn. Those two tracks together are one of the best moments of the album.

"Distant Train" has a flok accent thanks to the acoustic guitar that supports Heather's voice. Closer to Renaissance more than to Pink Floyd. The percussions are in charge of heather's Bodhran for the first 1:30 minutes, but also when Blackmore Jr enters with the drums he does it very slightly. A very good song.

"Answer The Question" is the first long song reminding of the past. About 5 very Floydian minutes for Bryan's guitar before the duet between Bryan and Heather reprises "Something In Between". The instrumental coda has the usual structure of tracks like "Mother Nature" or "The Spirit Of Autumn Past".

"Pass The Clock" is the longest track of the album. Piano and violin to support the duet, then it goes uptime. The melody is strong. I have tried to imagine Roger Waters singing instead of Josh. Except for the chorus that's too folk he should fit well. There's room for Angela's flute, I think it's the first time in this album. A Thunder closes the uptime section and we are back to piano and acoutic guitar. The parts are too disconnected.It's the same defect of Marillion's "Grendel". Playing three-four songs together and gapless doesn't mean writing an epic. The different sections are more than four. At minute 10 we have the first remarkable celtic moment, just a clue. A good track anyway.

The album is closed by the dreamy title track. A great closer on which also Angela's voice is in evidence.

Even if this album is not at the same level of its predecessor and also considering the change in the musical direction it's an excellent album, maybe more neo-prog than prog- folk, but surely deserving to stay in each collection. Only the hard fans of the first MA "celtic" period could be a little disappointed.

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Posted Monday, August 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars Conceptual masterpiece album and a new direction for Mostly Autumn.

"Passengers" is one of the best studio albums from Mostly Autumn. The songs have an uplifting quality as always but what sets it apart is the consistent quality and strong infectious melodies throughout. There are no filler tracks and the band are at the top of their game in both lyrical compositions and musicianship. The Celtic flavour is replaced now with a more accessible style but it is still as beautiful. The sound quality remastered is exquisite and it is one of the best lineups for the band including the incomparable Bryan Josh on lead vocals, lead guitars, and 6 or 12 string acoustics. Heather Findlay is as usual angelic on lead vocals and Iain Jennings is a revelation on piano, Hammond organ, and synthesisers. The folk touches of flute and recorder are added by Angela Goldthorpe. It is the final album for Jonathan Blackmore who is the drummer.

Highlights on this album include, but are not confined to, 'Something In Between', 'Bitterness Burnt', 'Another Life', 'Caught In A Fold', 'First Thought', 'Answer The Question', 'Passengers' and the suite at the end 'Pass The Clock'. It is a triumphant album where many of the songs have often been on setlists over the years including on the recent "Mostly Beautiful Live 2011" album. The songs encompass a journey through life, the highs and lows that we experience metaphorically portrayed.

There are some emotional ballads such as 'Another Life' augmented by Chris Leslie's violin and Marissa Claughan's cello. Findlay has some gorgeous vocals on this track, the lead break soars, and it and it is one of the most beautiful songs on offer here.

The music is beautifully realised with some outstanding passages of flute on 'Bitterness Burnt', and Troy Donockley adds Bouzouki on this mesmirising track. He also adds low whistles, penny whistles, and Uilleann pipes on 'Distant Train' and 'Pass the Clock'.

The theme of being a passenger permeates the album like a concept and the songs link together in other ways too utilising themes and motifs. The lyrical content follows a theme of travelling by various means so this is a concept album for the band.

'Caught In A Fold' is an uplifting upbeat track with the theme of finding freedom augmented by stellar flute and Findlay's passionate bright vocals. It is one of the best Mostly Autumn tracks for years and has become a live favourite for the group. After this powerful optimistic song, the pace is brought down again with a howling wind effect and some acoustics on 'Simple Ways', with Josh sounding like Dave Gilmour vocally. It features a lovely instrumental at the end with a soundscape of picturesque beauty.

'First Thought' is another gentle song showcasing Findlay's inimitable vocals. The uplifting melodies build into different sections until it reaches the chorus. The structure of the song is striking, with an awesome lead solo to augment the optimistic atmosphere.

'Passengers' is a key track for the band and features some of the most incredible musicianship. It is driven by sweet melodies and powerful vocals. It begins with minimal piano and Findlay's serene voice. The build to the chorus is transfixing with a memorable hook "dropping off passengers". There is a sadness in the atmosphere but it is a relaxing beautiful mood generated. The ending is a supernatural train effect and a child singing 'Twinkle Twinkle'. This leads inexorably to the haunting 'Distant Train' instrumental. A divine lead solo kicks it off and some exquisite flute passages. It really captures the feeling of travelling and there is a section reminiscent of 'Empty Spaces', as Pink Floyd are clear influences it is not surprising to be reminded occasionally of their sound. This is stunning music that showcases the virtuoso musicians at their best.

After this wonderful musicscape, 'Answer The Question' follows, with a heavier distorted guitar riff, and faster pace. Josh sounds great on vocals in the verses, a bit like Gilmour and he is joined by Findlay. The chugging guitar riffs drive it along effectively, waking our senses up after all the ambience previous. The piano is wonderful on this track and it builds majestically. Every track is a treasure on this album and we have still yet to come to the big finale epic.

'Pass The Clock Parts 1/2/3' is the 12 minute suite in 3 parts. This became an integral track for the group, as the 10 year celebration was heralded with the 3 CD compilation "Pass The Clock 1998-2008", a collection of 35 remastered tracks spanning their career. It begins with tranquil measured ambience, Josh and Findlay trading off vocals, and then a drum burst and Hammond breaks out the faster cadence. Jennings is masterful on that shimmering Hammond, that blazes away like Emerson. The album peaks right at the end with a blistering climax of staggering musicianship.

The three bonus tracks on the remastered 2010 edition includes 2009 live versions of 'Caught In A Fold' (3:51), 'Simple Ways' (6:44) and 'Passengers' (5:57) all of which are played superbly. It is a nice bonus to revisit three of the best songs on the album in a live rendition lasting about 17 minutes.

"Passengers" is an outstanding conceptual masterpiece that resonated with me from the first listen. It has some of the band's best songs and some incredible melodic musicianship. The band are to return to many of these songs in subsequent concert performances and in fact many appear on the setlist of the 2011 concerts, in favour of albums to follow. The reason is because on this album everything works so well, the music, the lyrics, the melodies and the singing; all are perfectly realised. The Celtic influences are long gone now so for anybody to expect this, is going to have to live in the past, as Mostly Autumn have moved on to a modern sound and they needed to. I love the earlier material as much as anybody but they had done as much as they could with that style and needed to progress. Mostly Autumn may be underrated in prog circles but this is definitely one album worth locating as it is simply mesmirising beauty that uplifts the spirit. It proves that as far as Mostly Autumn are concerned, the Spirit carries on.

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Posted Thursday, June 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars 'Passengers' is the first album that I have heard since they left Cyclops, and I was intrigued to see how they had changed in the intervening time. Anyone who has reads the music press cannot have failed to see all of the adverts proclaiming the as the new Pink Floyd, but that didn't really fit with my memory of the band. I recall them being much more folky than that and prior to putting this on I read the credits. Sure, each member of the band (there are seven of them) all play 'normal' rock instruments. But hang on, what is a bodhran doing there? Then I checked the guests and found that only was there a guest cellist but also Troy Donockley was involved (low whistles, penny whistles, uileann pipes and bouzouki) as was Fairport's very own Chris Leslie on violin. Sounds a bit more folk than rock to me, and when I saw that Damian Wilson (Rick Wakeman, Threshold, Landmarq etc) was providing backing vocals I was even more impressed. But what does it sound like?

"Something In Between" has a piano introduction, then Bryan Josh and Heather Findlay lead the band in an almost Fleetwood Mac style number. Their voices work well together, and there is a real feeling of restraint as the shadows darken and the menace increases- this isn't Floyd, but a very different beast altogether. "Pure White Light" is next up, and a solo riffing guitar doesn't give an indication of what is to follow. The first verse has Bryan almost growling the vocals, with just a drum beat to accompany the guitar - but when it comes to the bridge the Floyd comparisons all start to make sense, as for a few bars the listener has been transported back thirty-five years, then just as suddenly the bright and breezy chorus sweeps away all the has gone before. I defy any proghead to play the first two songs on this album and then not want to play the rest - this is a great start and the quality doesn't let up from here on in.

Heather seems to have a more prominent role than I remember, but her voice works extremely well both solo and with Bryan's or Angela's, giving the band a strong 'focal' point. The music has great depth, and the band are equally adept playing music with a folk root or prog, even rock. For the introduction to the title number, it is just Heather and a piano with an acoustic guitar. As the song progresses it gets more and more powerful, but yet again not going over the top but building into something special.

It may have been a long time since I last heard Mostly Autumn but I am extremely glad that I have renewed my acquaintance - just superb.

Originally appeared in Feedback #79, June 2004

Report this review (#1100899)
Posted Friday, December 27, 2013 | Review Permalink

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