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Sean Filkins

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Sean Filkins War And Peace & Other Short Stories album cover
4.07 | 408 ratings | 28 reviews | 32% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Are You Sitting Comfortably? (1:06)
2. The English Eccentric (8:46)
3. Prisoner Of Conscience, Part 1: The Soldier (19:21)
4. Prisoner Of Conscience, Part 2: The Ordinary Man (11:02)
5. Epitaph For A Mariner (20:53)
6. Learn How To Learn (7:28)

Total time: (68:36)

Line-up / Musicians

- Sean Filkins / lead & backing vocals, acoustic & electric rhythm guitars, ebow guitar, keyboards, sitar, percussion, blues harp, didgeridoo

- Lee Abraham / acoustic & electric rhythm guitars, keyboards, bass, slide guitar (5), co-producer
- Gary Chandler / acoustic & electric guitar solos (2)
- Darren Newitt / guitar (3,6)
- John Mitchell / guitar solos (4,5)
- John Sammes / keyboards, arrangements
- Dave Meros / bass (2)
- Gerald Mulligan / drums

Releases information

CD Festival Music ‎- 201103 (2011, UK)

ArtWork: Paul Tippet

Thanks to chris s for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SEAN FILKINS War And Peace & Other Short Stories ratings distribution

(408 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(32%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

SEAN FILKINS War And Peace & Other Short Stories reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
5 stars Ex-singer of Big Big Train, it cames as no surprise to hear the influence of that band listening to this first solo's cd. A cd that contains a long suite of six songs links together. The arrangements gives you a interesting variety of sounds, sometimes exotic and other times classical. The vocals are is very enjoyable as all the rhythmn section. We are treated with some beautiful guitar and keyboards passages with piano and acoustic guitar to make the transition between the soft and heavier parts. The presence of guest musicians like Guy Chandler, Dave Meros, John Mitchell and Lee Abraham have helped established the great atmosphere and sound of the whole music, but what stands out here, it's the amazing quality of the compositions that take you back to the best Yes 70's classic period, with the modern sound of the Neo prog bands of today.

So it was a very interesting surprise to hear this cd because i am always afraid of trying something of a solo project, but this time it didn't feel like one. It wouldn't be fair to give this one a 4 stars and maybe a little soon to make it a 5 stars, but since it's closer to 5 and that there is no 4 and a half, i give it a 5 stars.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'War And Peace & Other Short Stories' - Sean Filkins (7/10)

Best known for his vocal duties with the modern prog rock band Big Big Train, Sean Filkins has decided to go and make music under his given name. While I have not yet listened to the music of that band, I would trust the numerous accolades I've heard given to the band; suffice to say, Big Big Train tickled the fancy of many of prog listener, especially with their latest record 'The Underfall Yard'. Being that I am not yet a fan of his previous flagship project, I approached his debut solo record without any preconceived notion of what the music will be like, besides the fact that it would likely fall under the prog category. As one could even derive from the track lengths of 'War & Peace And Other Stories' alone, Sean Filkins has certainly made a vast undertaking with this album, and sought to go out and compose a masterpiece. While the music here is generally great though, there is the feeling that things may have been stretched out a little too far for its own good here.

Of course, progressive rock is meant to be overindulgent; the music is generally bombastic, and intentionally takes more steps than are necessary to make a point. In Sean Filkins' case, his excellence as an artist is evident here, although I do think that he may have been a little too deadset on composing 'epics' here, when the music may have done alot better in a more conventional format. This is not to bash the man's songwriting abilities however; the music throughout is warm, leaning towards a symphonic sound, but rocking and ultimately tasteful. It just remains ironic that for an album that bases itself around not one, but two epic suites of music, that the two songs that have the most resonance with me are the two shorter songs, 'The English Eccentric' and 'Learn How To Learn'.

Disregarding a fairly typical introductory track for a prog album that consists of some rather domestic soundscaping, 'the first of the mentioned tracks breaks out into a fairly strong keyboard and heavy guitar riff, and then into a more symphonic sound that's indicative of the longer pieces here. The instrumentation here is fairly well done, although typical for the prog style that Filkins plays. The real delight in the sound- as someone would expect of a singer's solo project- are the vocals though; while Filkins' skill on the instruments is not particularly outstanding save for some great guitar solos here and there, its his vocals that really stay with me. His vocals remind me of Peter Gabriel's, or Mark Trueack of Unitopia's for the sake of a modern comparison, and his grasp of melody is great. The chorus of 'The English Eccentric' is beautiful, and a really mellow contrast to the sort of hard rock that the album introduces itself as.

As for the epics here, 'Prisoner Of Consicence' is a great epic that naturally grows after a few listens, but it does feel as if Sean Filkins concentrates a little too much on instrumental passages rather than where his real strengths lie; being with the vocals and melodies. Like the second epic 'Epitaph For A Mariner' though, it feels like these epics are drawn out for the sake of being longer, when they could have made a more profound statement were they cut down. The first segment of 'Mariner' is the biggest offender, verging on symphonic ambient music, which is ear candy by all measures, but wears thin a while before it's over. Filkins' lyrical topics are often narrative and- as indicated by the album's extended title- it does feel like the man is using his music to tell stories, and this helps balance out the album's flaws, and only intensify the moments of strength here.

Sean Filkins is by all means a talented man, and one of the best vocalists in the more orthodox prog rock scene. For the skills and promise I hear evidently in the music that 'War And Peace & Other Short Stories' delivers though, I can hopefully see the man trimming a little fat off of the bones of his work, and creating something a little more to-the-point, and powerful. This is not to say that the man should disregard his obvious penchant for epic writing completely, but as far as his solo work goes, the man's talent is most readily demonstrated when he lets his voice do the talking.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I like Sean Filkins' voice. BIG BIG TRAIN's "The Difference Machine" is one of my favorite CDs of the Naughties. I like this album pretty well. I agree with a few other reviewers that it's a bit bombastic, at times a bit drawn out or overextended, and overall fails to really explore any new territory, however, it does contain some stellar moments and one song that, IMHO, deserves to be launched straight to the pantheon of prog epic masterpieces: "Epitaph for a Mariner."

"The English Eccentric" (8/10) is is interesting for the way it feels heavy with out being really heavy at all. A different vocal timbre from Sean with nice b-vox harmonies. "The cracks in the pavement..." section, with its standard power chords, is a bit overblown (despite some nice bass work). And there is a very pretty, medieval-ish section after the "Her Father said..." line. Pretty good wah- ed guitbox solo to the end, too.

There are outstanding parts to "Prisoner of Conscience, Part I: The Soldier" (8/10) (the flute and sitar intro section; the use of mandolin and acoustic guitars in the second section; the organ in the third section; the heavier, bass-led "I Don't..." section; and, the climax with excellent [John Mitchell?] guitar solo from 15:30 to end), but then there are parts that are, well, bombastic and overblown ("mist of sudden fear" and follow-up sections [12:30-14:38]--including the spanish guitar part).

"Prisoner of Conscience, Part 2: The Ordinary Man" (6/10) has the unfortunate disadvantage of starting with a synth and synth bass foundation that sounds like it's been lifted straight out of JOURNEY's "Don't Stop Believin'," and, unfortunately, it doesn't get much better from there--almost "too proggy"--(like some Tangent, Flower Kings and Glass Hammer.) The piano-backed middle "So fragile...time stands still..." section helps--until the JOURNEY-like lead guitar (John Mitchell? really poorly mixed; IMO, not the right sound fit for this part) enters. A true neo-prog song.

The topical theme suggested by the title "Epitaph for a Mariner" (10/10) conjures up comparisons to BBT's "The Underfall Yard"-- which is unfortunate, because the lyrics and their emotional presentation were where I personally found flaw with "Underfall." However, that is where the comparisons should end. The first three sections--one instrumental sans drums with female 'siren' singing, the second including a brief recorded voice of a sailor, the third an ANT PHILLIPS--like 12-string with synth wash section over which Sean sings his heart--is absolutely gorgeous. The fourth section gets heavier, with an awesome slide guitar floating around in the background, yet retains the intense emotion and fresh-feeling to it--and delightfully peaks with a spine-thrilling slide solo. Together with this being by far Sean's best vocal performance on the album, this song alone warrants the purchase, listen, and Top 10 standing of this album.

"Learn How to Learn" (8/10) uses a really strange effect on Sean's lead vocal--which is especially noticeable in the quieter sections. The song's overall similarities to YES' "I've Seen All Good People" is rather enjoyable--including some rather esoteric, New Age lyrics I much prefer the move into the spacey, sitar w/tabla second/final section to that of "Your Move."

A masterpiece? No. But a solid 4 stars. Admittedly, I came into this listening experience with some doubts, but I come away a believer. Sean & Company are for real!

An excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Sean Filkins is known to many for his vocals in the British band BIG BIG TRAIN. Well he left that particular band after taking part in "The Difference Machine" an album I really enjoy. Sean gets help here from Lee Abraham, Dave Meros, Gary Chandler, Karl Groom, John Mitchell and others. And like BIG BIG TRAIN the lyrics here are very strong and meaningful. In fact this album has the ability to really move me at times which is a real credit to Sean.

"Are You Sitting Comfortably ?" opens with someone searching for a radio station then pouring themselves a drink. I'm sure they're sitting comfortably now as the music kicks in on "The English Eccentric" perhaps my favourite track on here. Synths and a powerful sound lead early then it settles with vocals a minute in. It turns dreamy after 3 1/2 minutes and again before 5 minutes. It kicks back in again.

"Prisoner Of Conscience, Part 1 The Soldier" opens with rain, thunder, nature sounds and someone walking through the forest it would seem. Flute and atmosphere eventually take over. Percussion and sitar before 3 minutes as the tempo picks up. Strummed guitar after 4 minutes then vocals. It's much better when it becomes more powerful before 7 minutes. It's laid back again after 8 minutes but then turns heavy after 11 minutes.The guitar soars 14 minutes in then it settles back with almost spoken words.Great section here especially when the guitar comes in. Nice. It blends into "Prisoner Of Conscience, Part 2 The Ordinary Man". It settles with reserved vocals then it starts to pick up after 3 minutes. Some nice bass and mellotron-like sounds.Vocals are back.A calm 6 1/2 minutes in with reserved vocals and piano. It kicks in after 7 minutes with guitar and drums standing out.

"Epitaph For A Mariner" opens with organ as female vocals join in. Water sounds only take over after a minute then some atmosphere rolls in. Piano and intricate guitar follows. Some vocal melodies before we get a change after 5 minutes and the tempo picks up. Another change 9 1/2 minutes in as it turns mellow and reserved vocals join in. A fuller sound after 12 minutes. Nice. It stays this way until a calm arrives before 19 1/2 minutes to the end.

"Learn How To Learn" opens with piano as vocals join in. A guitar solo follows then it settles with vocals. It ends instrumentally.

Without question this is a special album and deserving of 4 stars. Like Conor mentions i'd have rather seen some of the fat trimmed but this is a really good album.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I wonder what this tune in the background of Are You Sitting Comfortably? can it be anthem of some kind (or rather something less prominent, but England related, perhaps wartime brass song?), but don't tell me. I could have looked it up anyway, but wanted to find out by myself.

But nope, don't expect me to understand the story yet. It's my 6th listen or so and it will take some more listens, but that's the point - the album is as good as the first one (actually even better, I am starting to appreciate subtle elements in the music, that's always a good sign).

So the funny thing (damn ironic too if you ask me) is that I never actually liked Sean's performance in Big Big Train that much. You can say that I liked the vocals, but I didn't like the music. However I consider "Underfall" as a pinnacle in their discography and "War and Peace" reminds me it a lot (at least some moments, very strong on The English Eccentric, whose often repeated lyrics line "'round his eyes" was a bit annoying to me at first, but then I began to like it more). Then comes tricky part - first, let's say one quarter of Prisoner of Conscience, Part 1: The Soldier, with its second quarter serving as a playground for Sean Filkins voice, clearly focusing on it, which is not a bad thing - as I said, he is proficient singer.

The music and melody ensues, but not just this, also half complex (my favourite kind - graduating type), half melodic music, which can be called third quarter. A lot of rocky parts here, which is fine. The last quarter is therefore ending (I suspect typical Prog epic pattern here), but ends surprisingly (at first I expected repeating of the song's motif).

Prisoner of Conscience, Part 2: The Ordinary Man starts differently, after the cataclysmic event, it emerges as quietly as possible, but then blooms into The Song. It's a fine one as well.

Epitaph For a Mariner is a bit weaker, again there is first quarter of something that I'll, for a lack of better word (OK I admit I have a better word and this is intentional) call ambience. Then it starts to moves slowly (the best metaphor would be probably an avalanche one) and ends even more epically than Part 1.

It probably won't be much of a surprise that Learn How to Learn again - starts quite quietly and ends on a high note, before ultimately ending quietly again (trait common to last two songs here, other three ends drastically).

On a related note, title of this song is also something you can call "story of my life", all my life I've been trying to learn how to learn, but always failed. The song probably have something else in mind, but this familiarity is also important for me.

All in all, one of the best albums of this year. There are flaws, but flawless album doesn't exist after all. I hope it's not subconsciousness hypnosis and I haven't put "rose coloured glasses" from the first song's lyrics on (not counting intro as a "song").

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Sean Filkins has been drawing rave reviews and considerable praise lately which is odd since he is no newcomer by any stretch, having been involved with Big Big Train (lead vocalist up to The Difference Machine) , neo-prog outfit Lorien as well as spacemen Soma. He has a unique voice that is immediately identifiable, powerful yet good-natured. I actually regretted his BBT replacement with Phil Collins-clone David Longdon, who was recruited for 'the Underfall Yard' sessions. But I guess it took a well-crafted solo album, aided and abetted by a bevy of fellow musicians who respect his talents to really enter the elite. The man knows how to be playfully inventive, beginning with a brief overture that nods and winks at an old IQ title ('Are You Sitting Comfortably?' and then tossing in some weird radio static that features Jerusalem, that fabled English church standard made famous by Vangelis, Jeff Beck and ELP. ' The English Eccentric' is a perfect introduction, coming across like a heavier version of the similarly gifted songwriters Steve Thorne and Guy Manning, seasoned with some grandiose arrangements that veer closer to the Tangent or even the Flower Kings. I find it interesting when some complain of too much fat (prog is like good Alberta beef, you need a little fat to provide flavor) or flaws that serve only to de- sterilize a genre that can easily fall prey to formula. Let us not forget that this is a solo album and as such is way more of a personal musical statement than a group effort.

This is a fine recording that incorporates a wide variety of interesting modules such as the sitar spirals at the onset of the massive 2 part epic Prisoner of Conscience or the Jon Andersonisms of the beginning of Part 2 that is like a demo version of the mythical The Friends of Mr.Cairo (Jon & Vangelis). There are some highly virtuosic performances here, on assorted guitars and bass courtesy of Lee Abraham (Galahad) and Arena's John Mitchell on lead guitar. Anything that has the word 'Epitaph' scares the 'bejesus' out of me, as if anything would dare to come close to the King Crimson masterpiece, arguably my all-time favorite piece of music. Not to worry but close as the whopping nearly 21 minute behemoth 'Epitaph for A Mariner' is a colossal composition of impeccable lineage , a soothing siren wail (Abigail Filkins, I presume) that sets a comfortable numbness, sizzling synth flights that sear the supersymphonic backbone and some truly beatific vocals from the big, big conductor himself. When faced with the challenges of such a huge piece of music, dynamic continuity and intelligent spacing is primordial. This comp has that demeanor in spades. Beautiful timeless music mercifully crested with a gripping slide guitar solo. As mentioned by some PA colleagues, this track alone is worth the price of admission, no refund policy needed. The piano fadeout is heartrendingly evocative.

'Learn How to Learn' is a fitting finale and I am perhaps the first to mention this but there is a definite undercurrent of Yes influence in Sean's singing and lyricism that seeks not to plagiarize but to provide a sense of immortality which the Squireboys have not revisited since 'Drama'. All the praise and galactic asteroids are entirely deserved. And then some''

5 Leo Tolstoys

Review by Warthur
2 stars There are few affectations that get on my nerves faster than English musicians - and prog musicians in particular seem to be chronic for this - who make a big deal about how whimsically English they are. Perhaps I merely suffer from a chronic lack of patriotism, but I prefer to think that it's they who have a chronic lack of personality and seek to fill it in with an easy, prepackaged bundle of quirks which don't actually add up to much.

So, perhaps War and Peace by Sean Filkins was doomed to not impress me when Filkins decided to make a 1 minute intro track consisting solely of him tuning a radio to some patriotic music and making himself a cup of tea. (That's another thing I can't stand: excessive fetishisation of tea. It's a drink. It's a sodding drink and it isn't even that good of one.) The first proper track, the English Eccentric, reveals that Filkins isn't actually that eccentric after all: what's on offer here consists of a rather bombastic style of prog consisting of most of the obvious influences from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, with occasional harder-edged influences creeping in at the corners with the guitar work. The rest of the album proceeds in a similar vein. As far as solo orgies of multi-instrumentalist tootling go, it's technically adept and shows off Filkins' skills nicely but doesn't quite manage to have anything interesting to say or to connect on an emotional level except to irritate and annoy.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars Prior this his debut solo album Sean had made a name for himself with both Big Big Train and Lorien, and so I approached this with some interest. There are also a large number of guest musicians involved, including Gary Chandler (Jadis), Dave Meros (Spock's Beard), John Mitchell (It Bites, Frost) and Lee Abraham (Galahad) so given that I also like all of these bands I thought that we may just be onto a winner here. It commences with the sound of a kettle boiling and then someone making a cup of tea while listening to a brass band playing "Jerusalem" on the radio. Yes, it's all very English in the extreme but I don't get it. My initial reaction was that Kiss did it much better at the beginning of 'Destroyer' many years earlier so why bother? But, my initial reaction soon faded as we were flung headlong into "The English Eccentric" which moves from electric to acoustic guitar as the mood and style moves here and there. Sean has a really great vocal style, and soon I was lost in the world and had almost forgiven him for the over-indulgent start to the album.

The longest song on the album is "Epitaph For A Mariner", and it starts with a church organ and a young singer singing the first verse of "For Those In Peril On The Sea". As soon as I hear that my feeling on the album took a major twist and I found myself listening intensely to what was going on. I was raised in fishing community in the West of England, where not only do our churches have the standard Harvest Festival but also Harvest of the Sea. That hymn is something I sang many times when I was younger, as it was always a major part of the service when the community asked for the trawlermen to be watched over and brought back safe. Although not many fishermen were lost at sea, it always greatly affected the town when it happened. I found myself back in my youth, feeling very English (these days I am a proud Kiwi), and feeling that I was starting to understand the album and what Sean was attempting to achieve.

Overall I feel he managed it, and the result is a prog album that is indeed very English in lots of ways, looking backwards and also forweards to the future and one that is well worth investigating.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Here we have a combination of Neo-Prog bombast and earnest acoustic-led passages. Sean Filkins has a pleasant, grandfatherly voice that doesn't come expected atop the Neo-Prog style (I don't mean that to insinuate elderliness- only a warm eagerness to tell stories). Where he shines is in the shorter tracks, as the highlights here are "The English Eccentric" and "Learn How to Learn."

"Are You Sitting Comfortably?" Somewhat. But I'll take coffee and not tea, thanks.

"The English Eccentric" Wild synthesizer and a thundering rhythm section billows through, settling into an upbeat acoustic rock song. The refrain is catchy enough, and the acoustic guitar solo is lovely touch, and is a stark contrast to the electric one that concludes the piece. This is a fun, stimulating song that is easy to just enjoy, and is my favorite on the album.

"Prisoner of Conscience, Part 1: The Soldier" Opening with the sound of war, the instrumentation begins with a low drone and lonely flute. What follows is an unexpected peppering of Indian instrumentation- the sound of a bazaar in Bombay rather than that of an English battlefield. Next in the queue is lighthearted acoustic guitar and bright singing. Herein lies my main criticism: There are stylistic changes that don't seem to make sense in the context of a single song. The organ solo drives the piece back into symphonic splendor, and the lead guitar that soon follows does not disappoint. The vocal passages at times remind one of Yes, while the instrumentation sits comfortably (ha!) in the neighborhood of Spock's Beard.

"Prisoner of Conscience, Part 2: The Ordinary Man" Coming right off the tail of the previous piece, this second part begins with a light vocal passage with a simple bass progression. This particular song is oozing with early Marillion.

"Epitaph for a Mariner" You'll think you're in church with the beginning this one: Pipe organ straight from a hymnal and an airy feminine voice. Expect quite a bit of synthesizer lead and repetition. I don't think the use of the snare complements the music. This lengthy song just doesn't capture me like a long tune should; I find myself looking at the clock. That isn't to say that the artist's instrumental prowess isn't on full display here (it is), but the composition itself just seems to carry on for the sake of carrying on.

"Learn How to Learn" A pastoral waltz with acoustic guitar, flute, and tranquil vocals, the final uplifting song is bathed in the nectar of The Flower Kings.

Review by lazland
5 stars Sean Filkins was the lead singer of Big Big Train until the great David Longdon replaced him for the exceptional The Underfall Yard. This, his debut solo album, was released in 2011, and, I must admit, it passed me by completely at the time. Why, I know not.

That is, until one day spent perusing the top albums of that year on Prog Archives earlier this year whilst recuperating from an operation, I read the reviews, especially that of my old friend Tszirmay, and thought......this sounds just like the sort of stuff I would like.

And do I. What an album. Quintessentially English in its entire outlook and output, War And Peace & Other Short Stories captures a unique talent. Yes, in the Are You Sitting Comfortably intro piece, one could point to Floydian bits. In the two epic tracks entitled Prisoner Of Conscience you could point to a fair bit of Beard in part one, and certainly Anderson heavy Yes in part two. However, these are merely influences, because at the heart of this is Filkins as a multi instrumentalist, a man with a huge vocal range, from as heavy as it comes to achingly poetical. Further, his piano playing, especially, is as heartfelt as any classical exponent.

Passages range from the blistering, to the bombastic, to some of the most gorgeous music I have had the pleasure of listening to in many years. From the first moment I put this on, I knew it would become a lasting favourite. The English Eccentric, the first song proper, is perhaps about the best self description I have seen written by an artist, and tells a story of a man whose time is no longer here, and the the contrast between thundering sound and wistful, mournful, acoustic rather accurately reflects a life lost though conflict.

The epic right at the heart of the album, and is in two distinct phases, as mentioned above. The guitar burst at the close of part one is as 'eavy as anything you will ever hear from any so-called heavy metal band, before we then have the most dreamy, and beautifully sung, intro of part two, yet the two segue seamlessly. Quite delicious. During the varying movements, attention is never, ever, lost. The denouement brings all of these varying moods together in a huge wall of sound that deserves to shake the room of any discerning progger.

Even this, though, pales into insignificance when set against the truly exceptional Epitaph For A Mariner, twenty one minutes of the most incredible rock music I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Opening with the traditional Sailor's Hymn, beautifully sung by Abigail Filkins, to the accompaniment of a mournful organ, the track develops into quite the most wonderful piece. Abigail has a gorgeous voice, and her mournful, soulful, wail is the passage to all that follows.

I said at the commencement of the review proper that this was a quintessential English album. Well, this track, more than any other, embodies that spirit, because what could be more English than a hymn, Ode, and Epitaph to fallen seafarers, the bravest of the brave, who risk their lives daily, and, as with our hero here, often fall in the harsh environment they choose to try to tame? "But the sea's no friend to man". Written in three absolutely clear, and distinct, movements, this track embodies all that is good about a piece of music which, again, never allows the listener to drift and lose focus. The Epitaph passage gives full rein to the bombast that Filkins does equally as well as the heavy and restrained. The huge sound created gives way to a couple of minutes of lovely piano at the end, allowing the listener to reflect and, yes, grieve.

Closer, Learn How To Learn, is a fitting climax, nowhere near as intense as what came before (it would be, in truth, impossible). It has been compared by other reviewers to Drama era Yes or Flower Kings. It is, I think, far closer to the finest that the latter have produced, and brings us down from the intensity that came before in a fashion that still demands our full attention, very much in the fashion of the best of the Swedish greats. The guitar solo midway through really is gorgeous, and we are then taken down....down......down..... To a wall of vocals and gentle acoustics which re-asserts the fundamental unique Englishness of Filkins, as a fitting end to a fundamentally unique piece of work.

So, to a rating. Looking at my 2011 new album purchases reviewed, I see that this was the year I raved about the Edison's Children debut, and the wonderfully beautiful Introitus album, Elements. Well, this one is as good as these two gems. This is an album which is so representative of the best of modern progressive rock. Taking influences, and moulding them into a series of stories and soundscapes which are essentially 21st century. In other words, an album which moves the genre forward.

It is a masterpiece, so gets that rating. I, for one, cannot wait for the follow up.

For those of you, like me, who missed it at the time, this album comes very highly recommended.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Most of you will probably know of this man. He was with Big Big Train for six years, but only featured on two of their albums, 2009's incredible The Underfall Yard being released after his departure. This is, to date, his only solo album but on the strength of what's here I'd be willing to lay d ... (read more)

Report this review (#1644861) | Posted by Trollheart | Saturday, November 19, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After hearing just one track from this album on a progressive rock radio show, Prisoner of Conscience part 2: The Ordinary Man, I immediately knew I had to have this album. And hearing more tracks after that first one, like English Eccentric which has a lot more power to it than the other tra ... (read more)

Report this review (#1056234) | Posted by yvonne | Tuesday, October 8, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I can definitely hear some sounds of Big Big Train's "Gathering Speed" here but I reckon that probably owes a lot to the fact that Sean Filkins took the microphone on that album for the masters of prog from Bournemouth. For this one, his first solo album, Sean Filkins (with a little help from his f ... (read more)

Report this review (#818156) | Posted by Driver | Monday, September 10, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As vulpino stated, this is the first time i have ever written a review and felt compelled to after seeing some of the low star ratings for this CD. Which in my opinion is a Progressive Rock Gem and one that should be in everybody's Progressive Rock album collection. Sean Filkins has created a fan ... (read more)

Report this review (#597186) | Posted by Prog Pete | Tuesday, December 27, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is the first time I have ever put pen to paper to review an album, but felt the need as I couldn't believe some of the low ratings this 5 star album has received. As one of only a handful of albums I have bought this year that I could honestly say is Progressive, this CD mixes elements of ... (read more)

Report this review (#593823) | Posted by Vulpino | Wednesday, December 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 8/10 Of all the releases this year, this album really stands out. Many know Sean Filkins as the former lead singer of Big Big Train, but now he is ready to make his mark with his debut album War and Peace and Other Stories. This album evokes the prog giants of the past, with a strong sense ... (read more)

Report this review (#581777) | Posted by voliveira | Sunday, December 4, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After listening to someone elses copy of this cd I couldn't wait to get hold of my own, and to be honest it's barely left my cd player since. I have been absolutely blown away by these tracks and how they can evoke such emotion and be so inspiring. This year has been tough after loosing a close f ... (read more)

Report this review (#575947) | Posted by prog_chick | Saturday, November 26, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars More often than not, I may not like an album on the first listen. Very rarely does a CD immediately grab my attention and hold me musically mesmerized. But that was definitely the case with "War and Peace & Other Short Stories." I do most of my listening while commuting to and from work. ... (read more)

Report this review (#567057) | Posted by bruskey93 | Saturday, November 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As a proper fan of bands like Porcupine Tree, Pendragon, Arena, Abigail's Ghost etc I heard by accident two songs of Sean Filkins' solo album. At that very moment I knew that it is a NEED for me to have this cd. In my opinion Sean Filkins really did improve since he left Big Big Train and now p ... (read more)

Report this review (#561221) | Posted by HCG | Wednesday, November 2, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Sean filkins " War and peace and other short stories" is not something i would go out of my way to listen to but that for me goes for most prog rock.( A mate put me onto it and im glad they did) But i thought i would take the time to say that this how ever is something special, it flows together s ... (read more)

Report this review (#528862) | Posted by scotty9920 | Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Marillion's latest album after the return of Fish on vocals picks up right where Misplaced Childhood left off...........oh sorry, this is a Sean Filkins album? formerly of Big Big train. Well you could've fooled me! Whilst this is an anjoyable trip back to the 80's, well played, well sung, somew ... (read more)

Report this review (#524271) | Posted by praj912 | Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is the one where Sean Filkins sets a line in the sand and states "i am here" other vocal contributions to bands such as big big train although excellent in there genre do not measure in comparison to Sean's new album "War and Peace and Other Short Stories" The album takes you on a j ... (read more)

Report this review (#516816) | Posted by Osmium76 | Wednesday, September 7, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I started out listening to Progressive music back in the seventies, when bands like Genesis, Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues were constantly in rotation on my turntable. Later in the Eighties it was Marillion, then Porcupine Tree and Spocks Beard. Now it's Sean Filkins. I bought Sean Filkins ... (read more)

Report this review (#507409) | Posted by Prog Panda | Monday, August 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Of all the new prog albums of 2011, I found this album as the most original in terms of not particularly being inspired by the past giants of Prog Rock. The album is very melodious overall. While being very accessible, all the songs are intelligently structured to give you a sense of adventure. I ... (read more)

Report this review (#506777) | Posted by Sharier | Sunday, August 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I recently purchased this album on a friend's recommendation and didn't really know what to expect. When I received the album I had to go to work so I put it on in the car and was absolutely blown away. I couldn't believe this was created by (as far as I was concerned) an unknown artist. I was tr ... (read more)

Report this review (#502410) | Posted by BIGBboy_RockFan | Saturday, August 13, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As someone who started listening to Progressive Rock some 40 odd years ago, I found much to enjoy with War and Peace and Other Stories. I had been introduced to Sean Filkins via my interest in Big Big Train so was very interested to see what he had to offer. I have found that repeated plays cer ... (read more)

Report this review (#484865) | Posted by patpom | Monday, July 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Following some fairly major brain surgery at Christmas I've found myself with a lot of time on my hands whilst recovering at home. The vast majority of my time has been spent doing what I love the most, that's listening to Prog in all of it's various genres. I have to say the very first time I ... (read more)

Report this review (#483851) | Posted by cyberfloat | Saturday, July 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I don't post a lot of reviews but I am going to do so for the new album from Sean Filkins, to me this is certainly one of the best things I have heard in 2011. This album has six tracks on it, the first track is really not a song it is somebody (Sean I assume) preparing what must be tea, , and get ... (read more)

Report this review (#472915) | Posted by RJN | Thursday, June 30, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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