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Mostly Autumn - Storms Over Still Water CD (album) cover


Mostly Autumn

Prog Folk

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5 stars An album with two faces; a rockin' Dark Side and an excellent soaring symphonic rock Side with four excellent epics. But nevertheless it all fits well on one album, but it needs more as one spin in your desk. They've left the Celtic edge what was so characteristic for their first two albums. And so there isn't much room for Angela and her amazing flute, and that is a lost I think, because I like her playing extremely well. On the other hand the contributions of Ian are greater as ever, the rhythm team has improved and again it seems that Heathers voice has made another big step to higher grounds. Carpe Diem and the title track are classic masterpieces already. The sound quality is superb and I really enjoyed the fresh live sound of the whole album. Maybe that is because a new engineer was brought in and the proffesional surrounding of the Chapel Studios has a positive effect. Bryan: "... we never have used this kind equipment as this before... one thing I really wanted to have for the album is a kind of fresh sound, white moist, fresh nice production sound, think the songs deserve that...". A few moments before he mentioned that they didn't have used all the posibilities of the Chapel Studios, so to speak with Bryans words "...there will be a lot beautiful moments to come." But first enjoy this one!

Nick from the lovely South of theNetherlands at

Report this review (#34960)
Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars finally an other album of by now asserts Mostly Autumn, indeed where endured famous an optimal album that the singer of the Mostly Autumn Heather Findlay mainly takes advantage of its talent with its beautifulst voice in pieces like "Heart Life" and "Storms over Still Water". An album that could very well be defined Rock/Folk/Progressive where the group emphasizes highest competence in producing fast pieces and discs of a valve binding together the unquestionable competence el the remaining leaders Bryan Josh with members of the group that a lot they make to think that the Mostly Autumn will remain in the history. A lively advised album for who loves music. Excuse me for my english but i'm Italian


Report this review (#34962)
Posted Thursday, May 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mostly Autumn are the band who introduced me to the wonderful world of progressice rock even though I have always been a huge Marillion fan, both with and without Fish. This album takes MA onto a new plane of performance and songwriting from the initial track 'Out of the Green Sky' to the final one 'Tomorrow' we are taken through a fantastic sixty odd minutes of unsurpassed excellence of music and vocals. Mostly Autumn are the best at what they do and every prog fan should emerse themselves in the music of this incredibly talented group of musicians. Storms Over Still Water is just proof to me that their talents are getting better because, unlike many bands, they have not sat back and just churned out the same old thing. Buy it, you won't regret one single minute of it.
Report this review (#34963)
Posted Friday, May 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4 1/2 Stars. An excellent album, though not quite a masterpiece or essential album. MOSTLY AUTUMN continues the turn away from their celtic-folk beginnings to more of that of classic rockers. The CD basically starts out with 6 short rock songs, all are good, but certainly more classic rock than prog. Of the songs, the best is "Heart Life", which is softer, leass rock than the others. All the songs are very enjoyable, and extremely well played. Than with track 7, the CD begins to change. "Coming to" is kind of a trippy, driving rock little instrumental which leads into the proggier rest of the CD. MOSTLY AUTUMN have never made a secret of their PINK FLOYD influence, and "Candle to the Sky" could have been straight out of any of the classic FLOYD albums. A great song, followed by an even greater song,"Carpe Diem". "Carpe Diem" is probably the closest song to older MOSTLY AUTUMN". Than another masterpiece in the title track of the CD. Three (3) great songs in a row, all masterpieces. None of them hit the 10 minute mark, as they range in the 7 and 8 minute ranges. The CD ends with a another rocky instrumental called "Tomorrow". I had heard that the CD should be listened to from beginning to end uninterrupted, and I think that holds true. The whole CD just has been extremely well put together. My biggest regret is that while I love this CD, I preferred the celtic-folk influences of their earlier CDs. Also, Angela Goldthorpe, who is an outstanding flautist, gets pushed more into the background. Her playing has always added another beautiful layer to the playing of MOSTLY AUTUMN, but on this CD, her flute is only audible in a few songs. Overall however, MOSTLY AUTMN'S musicianshipp has never been better, Ian Jennings fine keyboard work comes more to the front, and there isn't a better almost unkown guitar god than Bryan Josh. An outstanding CD.
Report this review (#36382)
Posted Monday, June 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I can't believe my own eyes seeing that 5 stars reviews here. If that is masterpiece of progressive rock, the genre's quality falls dramatically. Mostly Autumn released album which compared to their earlier stuff (except Passengers) is disappointing.

The worst in that all is that band's steps and changes are illogical because mean getting rid of the best features of their music. In the commercial name of power and fast songs which primitive construction is based on electric guitar power entries we lack flute, acoustic guitar and all Celtic elements, there are hardly any good solos, we lack charming melodies and depth. In conclusion everything on Storms has been narrowed: pallette of instruments, pallette of feelings, amount of interesting ideas. What has been extended is absolute "averageness". Storms are good album to listen when you're doing sth else but there is nothing to savour what in case of band listening to which you were only savouring is the saddest conclusion that can be made.

Mostly Autumn choose the road in defiance of their characteristics and stunning features. Heather Findlay's performance on some Storms tracks is a symbol of the whole situation. She's not fit to singing in Out of the Green Sky chorus and the result there is very bad. She tries to be vocalist basing of power with voice that's stunning feature is not power but something else. And Mostly Autumn tries to be one of the millions similar rock bands with simple songs, simple sound. You achieved your goal, you are one of millions average. But under such circumstances please do not write on your official website about your best album so far. It's a shame to write such things.

Report this review (#37893)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars If someone doesn't like this album, they've got the right to do so, but I don't care, I love it. What does 'progressive' mean if bands are supposed by their fans to do the same thing over and over again. OK, so it's more rock than folk, so what? Mostly Autumn was never meant to be a folk-band, as Bryan Josh said the folk-parts were just 'a treatment, it's only one side of the band.' True, it sounds a bit more commercial, but if that's a bad thing, then Pink Floyd's "The Wall" must be quite a bad album, but I guess hardly anyone will agree with that. But as I said before, I love this album. Songs as "Heart life", "Candle in the sky" or "Carpe diem" will surely become new classics. (And for those who think there aren't enough old elements on this album, these songs are in the same style as "Shrinking Violet", "Mother Nature" and "The gap is too wide" respectively).
Report this review (#39599)
Posted Saturday, July 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars In 2001 I attended a progrock festival in Holland, Mostly Autumn took my attention because of their pleasant blend of prog and folk. Especially the heavy David Gilmour- influenced guitarist blew me away! Since then this band has released a lot of material, gained a large progrock audience and even reached the television. This is their latest album, my CD version doesn't include a DVD.

1. Out of the Green Sky This operner contain a slow rhythm and a bombastic climate featuring duo-vocals (a bit theatrical female vocals) and great slide-guitar play.

2. Broken Glass A tight rhythm-section with a mid-tempo, male vocals and tasteful keyboards. To me it sounds a bit polished.

3. Ghost in Dreamland The atmosphere changes from mellow to bombastic featuring wonderful piano work and a good synthesizer solo. The duo-vocals do a great job here.

4. Heart Life First twanging acoustic guitar, flute and warm vocals, then halfway it turns into more bombastic delivering emotional female vocals and lush organ waves. The final part features a wonderful, very sensitive electric guitar solo.

5. The End of the World The climates change from dreamy with melancholical vocals and twanging acoustic guitar to bombastic (slow rhythm), this is very pleasant prog.

6. Black Rain A mid-tempo rhythm with duo-vocals and a fine electric guitar solo. Not very intreresting (understatement for a bit boring!).

7. Coming to... After some noisy sounds, this short piece delivers heavy guitar riffs.

8. Candle to the Sky One of the highlights on this album! First a dreamy climate with a slow rhtyhm and melancholical vocals, then a bombastic eruption with organ, followed by a cheerful atmosphere with The Beatles-like vocal harmonies. The end contains a dreamy climate with fragile play on the electric guitar and soaring keyboards, wonderful.

9. Carpe Diem This track features the distinctive sound of the Uillean pipes, along with tender piano, very moving, this folky side of Mostly Autumn pleases me! Halfway there is a splendid build-up, it becomes more and more bombastic, culminating in a mindblowing Floydian guitar solo.

10. Storms over Still Water In this song the climate is a bit melancholical with twanging acoustic guitar, orchestral keyboards, piano and warm vocals. Then a slow and more bombastic atmosphere, again culminating in a mindblowing Floydian guitar solo, GREAT!

11. Tomorrow

Another typical Mostly Autumn composition: a slow rhythm and a bombastic climate with propulsive drum beats and fiery electric guitar.

Despite some mediocre, polished mid-tempo songs, this album features two strong faces from Mostly Autumn: wonderful, very tasteful folky inspired tracks and compelling bombastic climates featuring a slow rhythm and some excellent guitar work in the vein of DAVID GILMOUR.

Report this review (#42781)
Posted Sunday, August 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Storms Over Still Water is another step in the carreer of Mostly Autumn. However this album is not essential because the band is trying to duplicate themselves and also Pink Floyd. I know they are able to create excellent albums like 'The Last Bright Light' or 'Passengers' but now there seems to be a lack of enthousiasm. Maybe caused by too high expectations. Of course one can find excellent songs on this album, especially 'side 2' (yes I am a vinyl freak) like Candle In The Sky or the title song.

Report this review (#45186)
Posted Thursday, September 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I have to agree with MAfan. I was one of the pre-subscribers who dutifully paid my 25 some four months ahead of recording to ensure that MA can prosper and continue to push the boundaries. The problem is, they haven't!!! The principle properties of MA, Bryan Josh's guitar riffs, Heather Findlay's angelic vocals, Angela's flutework and the subtle complexity of a Rock/Celtic fusion has gone.

Even the MA website used to accept praise and criticism in equal amounts but now seems to edit guestbook entries to prevent negativity. Whilst sycophants and fans of heavy rock may hail this album as brilliant, listen to "Catch the spirit" and you'll see what has been lost. All the hard work of the last seven years has disappeared into a huge void of "just another rock act".

Whether it is a result of Bryan's increasing egotism or the distillation of the band by the replacement of Jonathan Blackmore by a guy who learned to play drums by building sheds, MA have lost most of what they had. When I first heard them and still hear the earlier stuff, I think "wow". When I hear this album, I don't.

Don't think I'll be subscribing to the next project guys

Report this review (#45405)
Posted Sunday, September 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars With this release Mostly Autumn keep walking further apart from that spacey prog-folk sound that first got me into them, like they did with "Passengers". This time the band decided on a short album (it's just under one hour, unlike the others) full of quick paced short heavy rockers, like the first six songs. There is some good material there, like "Broken Glass", "Heartlife" and "The End of the World". The seventh song is a boring instrumental that simply splits the album between the poppier first songs and the long tracks, more reminescent of "old" Mostly Autumn. And the whole situation changes. If you were wondering if the album, judging by the first half, was worth the money paid, you get your answer here. The last four tracks are among MA's best. A certain floydian influece is recaptured, and we get to hear Angie Goldthorpe at last, given that she seemed absent through the entire first half. One thing that comes out of this album is the fact that Bryan Josh can actually sing, for he apears to have worked on his vocals and now sings beutifully in a low range, controling his voice a lot batter and saving himself another embaressment. Heather, on the other hand, gives us more of her lovely voice, although on some songs she just seems to shout instead of singing. Overall, the album is heavier, darker, and with better production than former works, with the bonus that Bryan Josh is no longer singing badly. The album is actually quite good for Hard-Rock standarts, but since we're judging it as a Prog-Rock album, it is far from an amazing work. 3,5 out of 5.
Report this review (#47350)
Posted Monday, September 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars What shall I say. It's not bad (hey, it's Mostly Autumn), but I really miss the Celtic-esque flavor in their music. Ok, I can appreciate the fact they try new stuff, but I prefer the old. Heard the storms (or parts of it) live, and I have to say: that sounds great. But this is a review of the album, and it won't be as much in the CD-tray as, say, Cath the spirit. Of course there are some highlights: Carpe Diem (with the fabulous Troy Donockley) and The end of the world. But please, more flutes (by Angela and/or Troy) on the next album and lots and lots and lots of guitar solo's by Brian. Keep on going!
Report this review (#47921)
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars The odd excellent track from earlier albums implied that Mostly Autumn might have what it takes to evolve into a good (though not great) progressive rock band. "Storms Over Still Water" makes it clear that they won't. Admittedly, some listeners will love it - the instrumental textures are robust, the guitar work more Floydian than ever, the choruses rousing and anthemic. But using the same modus operandi on every song creates a rather dull album, and worse - a couple of token instrumentals and a few dull extended tracks towards the end of the disc - this is not progressive by any stretch of the imagination.
Report this review (#49777)
Posted Sunday, October 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I had been looking forward to this album because I was very anxious to learn what direction the band would head for after the disappointing, yet highly succesful Passengers album. And unfortunately SOSW is not at all satisfactory. The first part of the album could have been recorded by any band featuring a female vocalist. There are no flutes, no violins, no distinctive guitar work, no folk elements. The first 7 songs are actually quite mediocre, with Out of the green sky maybe as a exception because the vocals are quite good albeit quite yelling. The drumming is indeed disastrouw, no original break, no nice fill, simply beating the drum and hi/hat. From track 8 on it starts to become MA again and that is far too late. For MA is a great band with excellent musicians being able to play a very varied array of instruments. But why not use it then....

I saw them on a gig in The Netherlands last september and they were absolutely great. Almost three hours at a row and all the energy was there. The real spirit of this band lies in the interplay between Heather Findlay, Brian Josh and Angela Goldthorpe. But, the other members of the band are so important. They may no be very charismatic on stage, but they keep on playing and do it so well. Even the new drummer, who is doing a very, very bad job on the album, played excellent. So there is hope for those who are awaiting a new TLBL of FAWS+ lets hope that the band hears the calls too and turns back to the road they fgollowed with their unique combination of Floydish guitars and folkish flutes and keyboards.

Report this review (#57157)
Posted Sunday, November 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Although this CD was released under the band's own label "Autumn Records", it was an album that was originally recorded for "Classic Rock Production", before the split occurred some months ago (and well documented on the band's web site). That being said, my reading between the lines is that Classic Rock Production tried to bring Mostly Autumn to a wider audience and by doing so altered their sound and led them to record shorter, more concised pieces. However, MA is made of very talented musicians, songwriters and vocalists who are capable of much more than they were doing under the management of Classic Rock Productions. The strength of their first four CDs (For All We Shared, The Spirit of Autumn Past, The Last Bright Light and Lord of the Rings) is their capacity to blend various styles of music into powerful, emotional rock music. This aspect has basically disapeared from Passengers and Storms Over Still Water. Regarding the latter, I should say that the talented MO returns with tracks 7 to 11 and the second half of the CD is extremely good ("Carpe Diem" is indeed a masterpiece). Therefore, while Mostly Autumn as a straight rock band is not bad at all, I would rank the first half of Storms Over Still Water as a "3" while I would rate the second half of the CD as a 4.5 (overall 3,5)

Now that the band has their own label, I believe that they now have full flexibility over their sound and this factor leads me to have great expectations for their next CD. There are so much possibilities when you incorporate violins, flutes, uilleann pipes, etc. in rock music, and given the talent of this band, they can continue to experiment and progress without repeating what they have accomplished with their first four CDs. From the perspective of a progressive rock fan, the future of MA does look brighter under their own label.

Report this review (#61219)
Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I borrowed both this, and Passengers, from a friend a little while ago. I still have them. Now, I had heard that Passengers wasn't too popular with some fans, but I personally loved it! See my review for that album. I felt it started off great and just got better. However, this one I find, by comparison, a little disappointing. Once again, I feel the second half of the disc is stronger, but none of the material on here is as good, to my ears, as the songs on Passengers. 'Out Of The Green Sky' is not a very auspicious start; the guitar work is fine, and Bryan Josh sounds quite good, but poor Heather doesn't sound anywhere near up to her usual standard. I think they were trying to sound too heavy and hard rockish on this track. 'Broken Glass' is a tad better, it has a decent melody and sounds more like Mostly Autumn. Nevertheless, the track is not in any way outstanding. 'Ghost In Dreamland' suffers from the same problem, a decent song, but nothing mindblowing. 'Heart Life' by contrast, is rather better, with good vocals from Heather, and nice guitar work from Bryan. The band as a whole sound more into their stride on this track. One of the better songs. 'The End Of The World', and 'Black Rain' are both solid, the former in particular having good guitar and keyboard work, but again, they suffer from not standing out in any way. 'Coming To' is an instrumental, but this is very average fare indeed, and not in the same class as 'Distant Train' on Passengers. Now though, things change for the better, and the last four songs are the best on here. 'Candle To The Sky' is beautiful, a mini epic moving through some nice changes, with atmospheric guitar and keyboard work again. Nice vocals too. 'Carpe Diem' is another good 'un, another long ish effort with a strong melody from Heather, and vintage guitar from Bryan towards the end. The title track could be my favourite on here. Like the two previous tracks, it is a slower number, with strong melody and vocals. The final track, 'Tomorrow', is another instrumental, but a rather better one, and it finishes the album nicely. I have played this a few times, and find it better the more I play it. Nevertheless, it is not up to the standard of Passengers, in my eyes. I have heard that their first three albums are the best; if they are better than Passengers, they must be good! This one is still worth three stars however.
Report this review (#79533)
Posted Saturday, May 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rarely have I been so excited on hearing a CD! It just blew me away! It is brilliant!! The problem is, you see, that when I played this album it was the first time that I had heard Mostly Autumn. To my shame, I did not know of their existence until they were recommended by a friend on a BJH-discussion forum website. In following his recommendation I plumped for "Storms Over Still Water", their latest album, more or less at random. I shall now be collecting the back catalogue as fast as my wallet will allow!

So, from not knowing what to expect, I was transfixed from the opening song and swept along mesmerized until the very last notes had faded. What power! What pace, almost unrelenting! What wonderful music, superbly arranged. And songs with a "conscience" to boot! This is a progressive rock band that rocks! Where is my superlatives dictionary?

I have seen some unflattering reviews comparing Mostly Autumn with Renaissance and Jethro Tull (because they use a flute!). Jethro Tull are a fine band but, to me, Mostly Autumn owe nothing to them. Renaissance are perhaps a closer approximation but Mostly Autumn have taken the "rock" in "progressive rock" much further than Renaissance ever did. I would say that, certainly on "Storms Over Still Water", the music is rock guitar driven, whereas it never was in Renaissance. Mostly Autumn pack far more punch. This is not to say that the keyboards and other instruments are forgotten or underplayed; no, each plays a strong part in fusing together powerful songs.

Unlike many other "prog rock" bands that I've heard, Mostly Autumn often generate real pace and power which they alternate effectively with slower passages to create a range of moods and emotions through the music. A good example is in "The End of the World", an ironic bitter-sweet song which takes you through simple loving, homely scenes whilst chronicling the destruction of the world! This song is followed by "Black Rain", an environmentally conscious song that delivers real pace and power to great effect.

Mellower songs are likewise effective: "Carpe Diem" is a beautiful piece inspired by the tsunami of 2004, evocatively sung and vocalised by Heather Findlay, where a range of instruments provide the background for some superb Bryan Josh lead-guitar phrasing. "Storms Over Still Water", the title track, follows and builds up the tempo from a slow start, Bryan taking over the vocals from Heather for the song's second part before launching into another great guitar solo, then taking us out gently into the closing instrumental number, entitled "Tomorrow", which is full of musical hope and joy. This album is nothing short of phenomenal.

Report this review (#95384)
Posted Sunday, October 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I fell in love with this album the first time I heard it. Every song on the album has something about it that makes it special.Two tracks 'broken glass' and 'black rain' are catchy rock anthem style with thumping beats and blistering guitars, contrasting with long epic prog sounding tunes in the shape of 'carpe diem' and 'storms over still water'. 'Coming to...' is a fantastical story in music not dissimmilar to Gabriel era Genesis in its style. The overall feel of the album I find far more rock than previous Mostly Autumn albums, but with hints of the great 70's sounds which is what helped build this band's reputation.

Add to this the DVD which contains an interesting short documentary on the making of the album and some nice promotional material. Also some live tracks and projections which are used at their gigs have been included, as well as great packaging and some very nice photos, this is a must for everyone.

Report this review (#115380)
Posted Friday, March 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars MA has been rather productive the recent years. A considerable amount of live albums (five) as well as DVD ones (five as well, if I am correct) between this album and their last studio work ("Passengers" released in 2003).

I have appreciated moderately MA so far. Their albums seemed a bit monotonous at times and definitely too long. Still, I admit that on each of their albums, some fabulous songs were featured (and therefore I have rated their fantastic compilation "Catch The Spirit" with five stars).

Their previous effort showed a bit of a change into their musical direction and it is confirmed with this album. Stronger rocking numbers than previously which is pretty much fine with me.

As we have been used to, the first compositionsof the album are really strong. In this case, you won't be brought into the Floydian mood like before; no : the first three songs are rather energetic, melodious and bloody good rocking songs, believe me. These songs are shorter than what we were used to with MA. Each being shorter than four minutes. But lenghty songs do not mean quality ones. In this case, holding the lenght to a very short standard, keeps the interest of the listener rather high.

The first folkish song is "Heart Of Life". A beautifully song lead by Heather (but, again, I am completely biased by her marvelous voice - but not only, I admit...). The second part of the song is rather hard and powerful though. A great mix of genre I must say. It is the first song of the album to feature a great guitar solo like we have been used to and which turned me into a MA fan to be honest.

The most Floydian song so far (not by the guitar but by the Gilmouresque type of vocals) is "The End Of Ther World". Another very pleasant song like MA has the secret about. Very strong chorus from Bryan and fabulous backing band. A great song again.

So far, this album is truely impressive. Not a single weak moment. And the next song "Black Rain" is absolutely on par : again the format is short (clocking as well at less than four minutes) but developping such a power ! Almost hard-rock but very pleasant (but you know that hard-rock is a genre I like, so...). A great song.

The short intrumental "Coming To..." starts as an Oriental gentle piece of music but turns out to be a wild one at half time. MA doesn't let us breathe. What a fabulous story so far !

Bryan takes the lead vocal on "Candle To The Sky". It starts as a folkish ballad (which is MA's trademark by the way). The chorus is pretty influenced by "The Dark Side Of The Moon". But I guess that there are less impressive inspiration, right ? It is the first long song of the album (over eight minutes). Fantastic rhythm after three minutes, really. We'll revert to a softer climate after five minutes and the song will finish with a spacey finale (would you believe, a bit like Floyd !) . Some three minutes to rest a bit, finally. Another very good MA moment.

The first truely prog / folk song is "Carpe Diem". A violin intro, and then... the sublime Heather. Only backed up with some very simple piano notes. A very intimist moment, really. And then... the sublime guitar break we are all waiting for. If you have read my previous MA reviews, you know how they sound like. These moments are really the ones I am expecting from MA; and frankly this studio album is the one I prefer. MA at his best.

In these Floydianless years, it is really a pleasure to discover such beautiful songs. And don't tell me that they sound too much like....bla, bla, bla... MA is great, full of emotion (and you know how much I am influenced by my emotions) and respectful. Hats off, my friends.

The title track is a bit weaker. Just a normal song I would say. Probably because all the other ones reached the masterpiece status. When Bryan takes up with the lead vocals, something happens again. I can't help. I am found of his warm voice which undoubfully reminds me ... you know whom I am talking about of course. The final guitar break reminds me of the same fabulous guy (hi Dave). So, here again, this song ends up as a superb composition.

Stop, please. I'm going to faint. Physically.

I have been listening to this album quite a lot and always have thought that it was their best studio work. Having listened attentively to each track for the purpose of this review, I cannot find any weakness in this album. Pure happiness (du pur bonheur).

If ever you would buy only one MA album, I STRONGLY recommend this one. I just cannot rate this album with less than five stars.

Report this review (#130637)
Posted Saturday, July 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Here's my 300th review. No triumphant one on a great album, instead a quick one on an album I felt very disappointed with. I admit I haven't listened to this very many times (would it "grow on me"? I don't think so!), but it's easy to say WHY I don't like this album. In two words: too heavy. I just hate the evolution of rock music nowadays, when heavy has become mainstream and every second band, originally something else than heavy, turns out to sound like heavy, and throws away their personality in order to capture wider audiences. Here are few bands I have come across this phenomen lately: Arena, Pendragon, Coldplay, Overhead (from Finland),... it seems that especially Neo-Prog is generally becoming more heavy. (NB: I'm not talking of Doom Metal which I can't listen to a single second, but melodic and often "Gothic" heavy in which the shifting between frailty and loudness is important. I believe that rock in general is aiming more and more at this kind of edginess, because of the commercial dominance of heavy rock.)

That eased me. Where were we? MOSTLY AUTUMN They used to have a lot of folk incredients but on this album that's very hard to find. Not that this album would be loud'n'heavy all the way, no, but on almost every track calmness may suddenly turn into edgier sounds. Check out yourself on the MP3 streaming of 'The End of The World'. Bryan Josh uses his vocals in a Metallica style in the chorus. This is rather typical of this album. He also plays his electric guitars more aggressively than before. On the positive side, the female vocals (Heather Findlay) are even more used than on their lovely debut, and also Angela Gordon Goldthorpe with her flute is a full band member. So, without the heavier moments this could have been quite an enjoyable album, though not particularily graced with lots of originality what comes to the compositions (nothing very memorable actually). The flute could still be one factor that separates Mostly Autumn from numerous melodic heavy bands of today... I presume.

Of course, if you like edginess, you may like this one more than Mostly Autumn's earlier works which were notably based on the Pink Floyd/ David Gilmour style and added some folk in it.

Report this review (#249893)
Posted Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars It's hard not to give this album 4 stars when you hear those three longest songs that play one after another late on the record. "Candle To The Sky" , "Carpe Diem" and "Storms Over Still Waters" are all so good. Unfortunately the other 8 shorter tracks aren't even close to being on the same level. A shame really because this could have been as good as "The Last Bright Light".

"Out Of The Green Sky" sounds excellent when it kicks in. Bryan comes in vocally after a minute followed by Heather. A pretty good opener. "Broken Glass" opens with synths and pounding drums before it settles quickly as Bryan comes in vocally. It's fuller as contrasts continue. "Ghosts In Dreamland" opens with synths and drums as bass then piano joins in. Heather comes in vocally before a minute as it settles. It kicks back in as contrasts continue. Nice guitar 2 1/2 minutes in. "Heart Life" opens with acoustic guitar as flute joins in. Heather (vocals) follows as this song continues to settle and kick in throughout. Some good organ too. Check out the guitar 5 minutes in to end it. "The End Of The World" opens with acoustic guitar and Heather's vocals. Bryan both vocally and with guitar before 1 1/2 minutes as the sound gets fuller (including drums). Contrasts continue here as well.

"Black Rain" opens with some nice raw guitar as organ and drums join in. Heather comes in. Some killer guitar after 2 1/2 minutes. "Coming Too..." opens with percussion and other intricate sounds. Cool intro before it kicks in around a minute and gets even better. "Candle To The Sky" opens with acoustic guitar and reserved male vocals,drums join in. I'm reminded of FLOYD when the backing vocals come in. I like when the organ joins in as it gets fuller. It settles before 5 1/2 minutes with some Gilmour-like guitar. A gorgeous section right to the end. "Carpe Diem" opens with piano as Troy from IONA comes in with uillian pipes. Heather follows with piano only. It turns darker after 3 1/2 minutes then the guitar joins in and it's so impressive with Heather's vocal melodies helping out. Great tune. "Storms Over Still Waters" opens with intricate guitar as the wind blows. Synths come in then Heather before a minute. Bryan comes in vocally after 3 1/2 minutes as the sound changes. Some fantastic guitar follows. It settles after 7 minutes with some PORCUPINE TREE-like synths. "Tomorrow" is the closing instrumental. Drums and heavy guitar here before the synths and a full sound kicks in.

As I said earlier the way this album ends it seems silly to consider anything less than 4 stars, but overall I have to give 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#259148)
Posted Sunday, January 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Symphonic soundscapes and dreamlike, haunting beauty over still water

Mostly Autumn are a prog folk band that I really adore due to the close relation to the symphonic sound of Pink Floyd and especially the beautiful soaring vocals of Heather Findlay. "Storms Over Still water" is one of their best albums.

It begins with a bang with Josh Bryan's riffing heavy guitar on 'Out of the Green Sky'. Findlay's vocals are more aggressive than usual, she really belts this out. Wonderful opener.

'Broken Glass' is catchy and melodic with a killer chorus and very strong drum beat from Andrew Jennings. The keyboard motif on this from Ian Jennings is awesome and one of the best things about the song.

'Ghost in Dreamland' features Findlay's haunting vocal treatment. The harmonies are beautiful when she sings with Bryan. It is a fast tempo once again with passages of slowed down verses. The loud chorus is excellent; "Until we find our way back home, a ghost in dreamland all alone, turn up the radio, spinning and spinning and spinning alone". It ends abruptly. There is no nonsense from the band on this album, straight in, deliver killer melodies and get out.

'Heart Life' is as quiet as the band get, similar to their classic 'Evergreen'. Findlay's dreamlike vocals are sensual and compelling. I could listen to her all day. The chorus is louder and infectious; "it's a heart life when day time lovers fought for lovers of the night, it's a heart life when night time dwellers fall for lovers of the light".

'The End of the World' is Findlay at her best, the high octave range is mesmirising. The acoustic picking is well executed, as the lyrics are sung; "and how he loves this mellow Sunday lunch, oh how he still inspires her teenage blush." Later Bryan sings the chorus like David Gilmour again. I like the tradeoff between them. This is one of the proggiest too with a strange time signature. A highlight of the album.

'Black Rain' is heavy prog with a grinding guitar riff, and very nice Hammond organ sound. Findlay is enticing; "Standing on the edge of a blue green volcano..." This is one of my favourite MA tracks. The heavy organ and guitar continue the riff throughout. There is an awesome lead guitar break to savour, Bryan really takes off on this with hammering and speed picking.

'Coming to...' is a strange atmospheric instrumental with echo effects and off kilter drumming style. A droning synthesizer and creepy piano add to the ethereal tone. At 1 minute in a heavy guitar riff crashes in keeping a driving rhythm. The keyboards sound symphonic on this and it ends abruptly.

'Candle to the Sky' sounds like Gilmour again, more so than usual, even reminiscent of the style of "Dark Side of the Moon". Bryan does a good job on vocals and the guitars are gentle and lulling. The huge chorus is a keyboard crunching pad with a nice little riff. The tempo quickens and takes some detours in the instrumental section which is dominated by organ but the flute by Angela Gordon Goldthorpe solo is great. The ambience at the end of the track is sweet to the ears.

'Carpe Diem' features Troy Donockley on ullian pipes and low whistle. It begins with wind howling noises and the ullian pipes, creating a melancholy lonely sound. Findlay's vocals are quiet and beautifully executed. The lyrics are interesting; "out in the twilight beneath the full moon, far from the snowfall lay tempest gloom, raging the ocean cuttle like steel, caught in the crossfire of mother nature's wheel". It is serene and calming and yet haunting. The lyrics are the feature of this; "Deafening silence fills the room, out of the darkness a candle gloom, reading a prophecy for all to hear, these days are a privilege they must be sealed." The guitars on this enhance the chilling piano chords. A very gloomy dark song but so well sung by Findlay, it's wonderous.

'Storms over Still Water' is another excellent track beginning with wind howls and a hypnotic acoustic guitar riff. The guitars violin as a keyboard pad sounds off. "Take my hand and put your arms around me... " Findlay cries out from the depths. The album's atmosphere has changed and there is a much darker ambient atmosphere. The lead guitar is uplifting though and absolutely brilliant. It finishes bookended with guitar swells and echoes. Excellent track.

'Tomorrow' begins with solo pounding drum rhythms, then a heavy guitar crashes in, the keyboards shimmer loudly over, the melody is similar to the previous track. This instrumental is like a reprise of this in fact. I could not ever discern that much of a difference, so this song is the finale, an extension of the other track, even including pieces of other tracks and melodies.

Overall this is one of Mostly Autumns best studio albums. I don't think there's a weak song on the album and some of these tracks are absolutely brilliant. I would recommend this to Pink Floyd fans and anyone who likes a heavy keyboard sound in their prog with lashings of lead guitar solos and beautiful female vocals. A great place to start to get into this band.

Report this review (#280360)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars There are many watersheds in life and that is as relevant to a band as an individual human. As a band is an entity and art form made up of human qualities, both for better or worse, it goes through the same trials and tribulations as us mere mortals and is affected by those out comes in the same way. Mostly Autumn appear to be at one of those watersheds. Their website has been reporting a split from their original record label, Classic rock Productions, which released their early work which now seems to be complete as this album has been released by Autumn records, a label owned by the band itself. What appears to have been the problem is that in an effort to push the band into a bigger market, Classic rock productions seemed to have exerted a corporate influence on the band resulting in shorter and more rock orientated songs. The previous album, passengers, bore testament to this and whilst it is as good an rock album as you could hope to find on the shelves, it does appear to be lacking some of the clever subtleties of their earlier work. Always a healthy and individual blend of folk and progressive rock, their work had an immediate identity all of its own, and whilst progressive music by its very definition is ever evolving, many were sorry to see this era come to an end. However with such a collection of wide ranging instruments and talented players making up the various pieces of the Mostly Autumn jigsaw, is it gone for ever or is this more straight forward version of the band just a passing phase. The latest release "Storms Over Still Water" might just hold the answer.

As the band slips from its no signature gentle opening into a big rock number, "Out of the Green" all seems familiar, that is until the vocals kick in. Bryn Josh, by his own admission a singer of feeling rather than technique seems to be struggling to find either and the normally ethereal Heather Findlay seems lost. Aiming for a sort of big rock chick sound she is definitely not doing what comes naturally. Still the big progressive-rock sound is there, and why not let the band settle for a short sharp opening number. The shock comes in the fact that the song is only three and a half minutes, very short by their standards. I guess what you have to bear in mind is that the songs were written under the watchful eye of Classic Rock Productions corporate plan and so we can expect more of this sort of thing. Hopefully the old Mostly Autumn will emerge as the album moves along.

And if I was hoping to find ghosts of the past emerging from the second track "Broken Glass" I am sadly let down. This big guitar and keyboard opening settles down to a sparse drum and bass rhythm, the harmonies seem to have landed closer to their desired mark, though still somewhat lacking by the standards that the band have set in the past. The keyboards seem to capture the spirit of albums past with its big space-rock riff that runs over the non- vocal passages, but still its not the band that I remember. The lyrics are still as well crafted as ever but the music seems to have settled for the easy option of hard-hitting rock. More of the same from "Ghosts in Dreamland" and now the sudden changes of direction and movement between time signatures that worked so well on the earlier albums seem contrived and clumsy. None of these first songs are in any way bad, they remind me of Ghostdance a band that moved from Goth to pop-rock and released only one great album and that's fine by me. I guess that when any band moves away from the sound that you first noticed them for it takes a while for to adjust to the new direction, I just feel that three songs in and I have been listening to what in the pasted would have ended up on the cutting room floor as it were.

Then it happens, "Heart Life". An acoustic guitar leads in, reminiscent of the first All About Eve albums mellower moments, recorders join in reminding us that as far as we are aware, Angela Goldthorpe, flutist and recorder player, seems to have been so far absent from the recording. When Heather Findlay begins singing its almost as if they have started a new album. Her voice is spot on and the music less forced, the gaps created in the instrumental backing, even when it hits its crescendo, seem to create a bigger sound than all the over blown guitar work and power play of what has gone before. Josh's lead solo is back to its crystal clear resonance and for this track at least he regains his title of best unknown guitar god in the world. This is what I have been waiting for, but is it enough to redeem the album, that remains to be seen.

"End of the World" continues in positive way for those trying to find the band they thought lost. Clean picked guitar and a keyboard wash back Findlay's voice, the music seminal Marillion, the voice Julianne Regan at her finest. A typically progressive style mix of gentle intricacies interspersed with powerful Josh fronted rock kicks tell the last story ever told as mans wave of technological advancement comes back to destroy its creator. However just when you thought that everything was going to be alright, "Black Rain" takes us back to a mainstream rock place. By now its obvious that we have sadly left the Celtic fringe far behind and the band seem content to play at being Pat Benatar, which is OK if you are Pat Benatar, but when you are Mostly Autumn is a real shame. Like most of what has gone before there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the song it just seems that they are content to coast along using 25% of their talent.

More in your face rock in the form of "Coming To?" but this time it sounds a lot more original thanks to Iain Jennings but at only two and bit minutes you have got to ask yourself why its on the album. In the past small musical passages seemed to combine to form much bigger pieces of music, the sounds would flow and evolve from one theme or idea to another. "Coming To?" just seems to sit there on its own a disembodied idea with nowhere to fit in. Josh's vocals sound gruff almost like Bob Geldolf with out the accent on the opening passages of "Candle to the Sky" the music opens up and that old "Dark Side of the Moon" comparison becomes so obvious its embarrassing. A good song with some nice musical tricks but too derivative of another band and another time. The play out section and the vocal arrangements are fairly original, the later being almost Beatle-esque but that's not enough to rescue it from the Pink place, as it where. The piano and Uilleann pipes join forces in a riff reminiscent of times gone past on "Carpe Diem" setting the platform for Heather Findlay's voice which here sounds the finest on the whole album. The swirling mists of musical creation are reminiscent of Celtus in their ethereal and mood setting manner. The song takes its time to build, there is no rushing into things, something that other songs found here are guilty of and by the time the guitar joins the song and Findlay's voice rises high above the music recent musical misdemeanours have been temporarily forgotten. At over seven minutes they have remembered some of the lessons of the past and given us the long slow burning passion and skill of their earlier albums.

The title track starts in a similarly promising way, a delay affected acoustic guitar builds layers of rhythm onto which layers of female vocal are layered whilst keyboard and guitar slowly raise the dynamic of the piece before it drops back into a haunting and swirling piece. This is one of the few songs on which every one seems to have a natural place, no-one taking up to much space, everyone there for a reason, the art of a good song is knowing when not to play and up until this song you would be forgiven for thinking that it was a lesson they had forgotten. An epic song and rightly the song after which the album is titled. "Tomorrow" plays us out, slow tribal drumming opens the way for a big rock ending, big, brash yet still in keeping with older style songs, almost to the point that you can here previous songs popping their head up from time to time, but that may just be my over familiarity with their work. Again as its just getting going after a mere three minutes it fades off into nothing leaving you a bit unfulfilled, and that sort of sums up the album.

All bands have to evolve but I don't think that this album is a step in the direction that I would like to see them go. I'm sure that there are many people who will love "Storms over Still Water" especially if straight ahead rock is your style. They do it well but I feel that they are a band with so much more to give, previous albums have proved that and I think that there is still a place in their work for that Celtic edge that they have almost discarded for this album. The light at the end of the tunnel is that now they are beholden to no record label but themselves they will be able to evolve naturally without the need to "sell units" as they say. This bodes well for the future and in the mean time there is a great back catalogue to listen to. This is a good album, especially if you haven't heard any of their previous work, but I only recommend getting this one to complete the set. If this is the band making, in my opinion, their least interesting album imagine what's to come.

Report this review (#394857)
Posted Saturday, February 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars For the first time, excluding Lord of the Rings, a MA album doesn't start exactly with the last notes of the previous one. There's a remind to Passengers but it's slightly different.

As on Passengers the first track is quite heavy and doesn't seem to have been written thinking to Heather's voice, and as on Caught on a Fold che is able to make a good jib anyway. The difference is that she sings only on the chorus, the rest is Bryan's stuff. I like this song but it's different from the usual MA, including the sudden end.

Rock also on the second track. Again is Bryan who sings over a base of bass and drums. There have been a change in the lineup as Blackmore is no longer in the band, replaced by Andy Jennings who is possibly Iain's relative. Also Angela Goldthorpe got married so she has changed her surname to Gordon.

"Ghost In Dreamland" looks like something already listened. The bass line is the same of an instrumental from their early albums, I currently don't remember which one. The song is not bad and Heather is excellent as usual, but this is the third consecutive heavy track.

The first track which sounds 100% Mostly Autumn is "Heart Life" and is a very good one. Heather at her best with a very godd performance of the whole band. The acoustic guitar and the keyboards sound a bit like on "Mother Nature".

"The End Of The World" starts similar. The 12 strings guitar backing Heather is strangely similar to that of Rod Stewart's "Sailing". Of course not the vocals,even when Bryan takes over the role of lead singer, luckily on the chorus only. Nice song. The chorus is repeated maybe too many times in the coda. I think a guitar solo wouldn't have been bad.

Hard guitar again on "Black Rain". This is not the best kind of songs for Heather, but again she does her job excellently. It's similar to "The King's Return" but not so bad.

A bit of electronic for the about three minutes of "Coming To...". With some sitar and more distortion it could be Senmuth....well don't take me too seriously, even with distorted guitar this is everything but metal. The keyboard adds a symphonic touch, instead.

"Candle In The Sky" switches on something in my memory. I can't identify what exactly, but it's like I already knew it before buying the CD. Bryan's voice when on bass pitch sounds different and better than usual. One of the best album's songs. It turns deeply into Pink Floyd in the second half of the song.

A touch of Renaissance on "Carpe Diem" ("Catch the moment" in Latin). A Slow piano base for Heather. A sad theme which grows slowly strongly reminding of "Mother Nature" and "Shrinking Violet".

The title track starts Gilmourish with acoustic guitar on minor chords and again Heather. After one minute it's something different. A complex and captivating track with frequent changes of tonality and again very symphonic. Bryan takes over the vocal work at more or less half song then he places a good guitar solo.

"Tomorrow" starts with drums only in a quite hypnotic way then it gradually grows to rock. A good instrumental well placed as album's closer.

It's still a good album, but if you look for something really representative of Mostly Autumn it's too late. Check out the older stuff. This is good but non-essential.

Report this review (#507279)
Posted Monday, August 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Mostly Autumn seemed like a band that would be worth checking out after I read some of the reviews on PA. I listened to samples of their music on iTunes and YouTube, and my conclusion was that their folk music beginnings might not be quite up my alley but also their most recent work might be too pop oriented. "The Last Bright Light" was the album I really wanted but it was only available as an expensive import. I had to decide between "Passengers" and "Storms Over Still Water" and settled on the latter.

After the first few tracks, I felt I was listening to Pink Floyd meets Figgy Duff (a folk rock band from Newfoundland that was active in the 80's and 90's) with a mix of Kim Hill (a female Christian singer/songwriter whose style is non-aggressive rock with a tinge of country). Heather Findlay's vocals give the band their Kim Hill rock sound, Bryan Josh provides the David Gilmour/Pink Floyd sound, and the folk beginnings which are still apparent here to a degree add the Figgy Duff sound. It's an interesting concoction to be sure.

The first half of the album is comprised of shorter songs that are more mainstream oriented. There's some good rock guitar that borders on hard rock at times, some nice synthesizer and piano as on "Ghost in Dreamland", and I like the lyrics to "The End of the World", which have Heather describing an elderly couple's simple and sweet relationship and Josh singing about what I think is the moon smashing into southern England and the wave of destruction reaching the couple. I would, however, like to point out that if the moon did indeed collide with the earth, the pull of gravity would upset the crust of the earth and engulf the focal area in magma before the lunar face ever kissed the earth. But interesting song nonetheless.

"Coming To" is a short instrumental that takes us into the second half of the album that features three longer songs and it seems we are out of the mainstream and into prog land. "Candle in the Sky" has a very strong Pink Floyd sound at first and half the song is a slow guitar solo in the flavour of Mr. Gilmour. "Carpe Diem" begins with some beautiful piano and ullian pipes and low whistle. The first half is really enjoyable but the song then spends the second half playing out a slow-paced musical theme on piano, pipes, and Heather's vocalese that I personally feel drags on for a little too long.

My favourite of the longer songs is the title track. The song is also in two parts, the first part sung by Heather and is acoustic and moody, very pretty. The second part has Josh take over and though still slow and beautiful, it takes on a bit more of a rock edge, once again reminding me of post-Waters Pink Floyd. For my money, this is the song where the band really nailed it and it's the most played track off the album in my earbuds.

"Tomorrow" is a nice closing instrumental with a simple but powerful melody. It repeats until it fades out.

This album has it's moments and at times I really can enjoy listening to some of the songs. But I felt it was not as progressive as I had imagined and more commercial rock, especially in the first half. I was looking forward to a bit more of a folk feel to it as I imagine "The Last Bright Light" is like. I'd like to get at least one more album by Mostly Autumn but the ones that are easy to procure are even more pop-ish and the older albums are all rare, out-of- print, and expensive. There is of course the "Pass the Clock" compendium of MA's career but I worry about buying a 3-CD set where I might like only one CD's worth of songs.

"Storms" is a good album that will be a treasure for some. I think it's mostly just OK.

Report this review (#901470)
Posted Monday, January 28, 2013 | Review Permalink

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