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The Gift

Symphonic Prog

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The Gift Land Of Shadows album cover
3.80 | 69 ratings | 4 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I Sing of Change (1.04)
2. The Willows (12:00)
3. Road Runs til Morning (7:04)
4. Walk Into Water (6.19)
5. Too Many Hands (5:12)
6. You Are The Song (4:17)
7. The Comforting Cold (19:39)
8. As (1:19)

Total Time 56.00

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Morton / vocals, keyboards, flute, 12-string guitar, composer & arranger
- David Lloyd / electric & acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards, composer & arranger, production & mixing
- Joseph Morton / drums, percussion

- Andrew Morton / voice (1)
- Anna Morton / voice (1)
- Evie Morton / voice (1)
- Andy Coombe / piano (6)
- Andre Lewis / backing vocals (7)
- Rebecca Jordan / cello (7)
- Kurosh Davis / viola (7)
- James Fox / violin (7)

Releases information

Artwork: Brian Mitchell

CD Bad Elephant Music ‎- BEM004 (2014, UK)

Digital album

Thanks to mogol for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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THE GIFT Land Of Shadows ratings distribution

(69 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (18%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE GIFT Land Of Shadows reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Gift is back after a long hiatus due to reasons that are the usual garden variety of life struggles and making music that won't really pay the bills and provide a rock 'n roll lifestyle of wasteful debauchery and stuttering stupidity (Hey, Ozzie!). Their previous 2006 effort "Awake and Dreaming" was a progressive rock revelation, an original collection of sharp and exciting songs expertly played and sung with immense talent by Mike Morton. To witness such an album of complex symphonic prog played with flair and a strong sense of masculinity is a treat to any progressive rock fan worthy of such a lofty title. Their debut remains a perennial monument in this reviewer's prog pantheon of fame. The interim years have revamped the line-up with entirely new musicians, save for the microphone king.

Enter new guitarist David Lloyd, owner of a distinctive tone and style that is both hard and soft (which was also present with first guitarist Leroy James) and the main vehicle for Morton's aural assault, ably supported by keyboardist Howard Boder and bassist Kirk Watson. Morton's relative Joseph handles the drum kit. Apparently Mike Morton and Lloyd are the only ones left and have already new members lined up for upcoming 2014 gigs. Musical chairs, wot?

After a brief spoken intro, the epic "the Willows" arrive in archetypal The Gift style, piano and voice articulating 'the sweetest song' , Mike Morton displaying why he is the most underestimated British prog vocalist, a clear and resonating voice that owes little to the usual suspects in terms of tone and style. Soon, the mood invariably becomes metallic and rambunctious as Lloyd's guitar carves hard and relentless, the bass fiendish and reptilian, the drums along for the booming ride. Synthesizer flutterings, change of pace and soaring electric leads intermingle with fresh expectations of symphonic splendor. Children musing about some harsh lullaby, twangy guitar licks (they like to sprinkle slight country music attitudes as a tasty condiment), something the Strawbs enjoyed greatly on occasion. Just a sterling epic piece of 'finesse' prog.

The monumental mellotron blasts unafraid to announce the "Road Runs on Til Morning" , another delicious Morton vocal , a 7 minute ride that has all the ingredients for a successful tune, great lyrics, expert delivery and a slight rock 'n roll feel that will frankly never grow old. Lloyd then zips off a slinky solo on the 'gueetar', crystalline and adventurous, exuding a sense of courage and passion. This is what makes the Gift so appealing, very British yet also very American, as if a perfect hybrid. Dibble dabble, let's play scrabble!

Things get really proggy with the mercurial "Walk Into Water" , parping keys and pomp, yet governed by simplicity and a certain elegance that gives elevation to words such as 'wash away the pain, so much pain' and finish off with an extended killer perfect axe solo, sensitive and soaring towards the stars. Miam miam! Repeat button activated!

"Too Many Hands" has a hushed vocal that 'sweetens the song', morphing into a pretty classic mid-tempo rock 'n roll ballad that has a fiery instrumental section (including another wicked guitar spot) and suave contrasts in the pained gentle vocal parts, crowned by a typical British style buoyant chorus . This is followed by a somber piano-led sliver of gorgeous melancholia, "You Are the Song", a fragile showcase Morton tune that clearly divulges his distinctive voice, graceful mellotron sweepings and dignified lyrics. The instrumental breakout is colossal in its restraint and aching beauty.

"The Comforting Cold" is the epic monster that gives this release its full prog credentials, a whopping nearly 20 minute romp that encompasses all the classic prog moves (slow build- up, mellotron strings, contrasting sections, alternate melodies etc?) , all sugared by the Gift's gift for style and tone. Things get tight and hard as the guitar assault flexes its mighty muscles, hauling the remaining crew along for the ride, impetuous bass carving hard and providing Morton to really show off his various accents and stylings, perspiring profusely about near-death paranoia, Kafka-esque dysfunction and the eternal damnation of the soul. The arrangement goes off into tangent universes that utilize the full panoply of synthesized keyboard colorations, confident of proposing ambient intervals of ponderous thought of space and time, undoubtedly the band finest creative exploration. Trepidation vocals, church-organ solemnity and resurrection guitar scouring, this is one hell of a prog classic. The raunchy guitar rampage dive-bombs through the murky clouds, dropping an arsenal of explosive rhythms and deadly lead missiles, both tortuous and deranged synth barrages and supreme heavy metal convulsions that wink at classic Thin Lizzy. When you least expect it, the song returns for another spin at the front of the stage, Morton really doing a cleverly convincing job on the microphone. Pretty impressive!

As befits their reputation, the album ends in a brief farewell, lush with fragility and sheer beauty.

A fine follow up to a masterful debut that remains iconic, so any comparisons are rather unfair and quite unnecessary, it's just another present from Mr. Morton, a new adventure to place under the gilded prog tree.

4.5 Parcels of Obscurity

Review by Matti
4 stars The Gift is very fine but all too little known British band. (By the way, I just noticed that if one searches for it elsewhere in the net, it's difficult since there are several other artists bearing that name.) The founding members were vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mike Morton and guitarist Leroy James, and the debut album Awake and Dreaming came out in 2006. It took eight years to release the follower Land of Shadows. Leroy James has been replaced by David Lloyd who also shares keyboard playing and composing/arranging credits with Morton.

The 1-minute spoken intro 'I Sing of Change' sets the album's calm mood, featuring some sea sounds and delicate flute. It is followed by a 12-minute track 'The Willows' that demonstrates perfectly what's The Gift all about. Starting in a peaceful and melodic singer-songerwriter approach, around the fourth minute it turns into faster, instrumentally beginning section full of traditional progressive rock hallmarks such as soaring solos and the Genesis-reminding mellotron sounds. There are some intensive moments making the track a school example of symphonic prog's wide dynamics between delicacy and energy, all in a natural flow. Melodies remind me here and there of Barclay James Harvest and Camel. The latter association suits also for the vocals; they sound like a cross between Andy Latimer and Anthony Phillips (think of his album Wise After the Event, 1978).

'Road Runs til Morning' starts majestically and shamelessly in a 70's fashion with mellotron, but the sound gets slightly more modern. At times the song feels rather straight-forward but the piece manages to be surprisingly progressive in the end. 'Walk into the Water' continues the band's habit of combining melodic tenderness with dynamic width. The pompousness is rather similar to The Flower Kings or other retroish modern bands inspired by Genesis and Yes. 'Too Many Hands' is for the most part rather a middle-of-the-road, semi-fast rock/pop song, perhaps the least interesting track of this album.

'You Are the Song' highlights Morton's passionate vocals and piano, and later on it's coloured by mellotron and guitars. 'The Comforting Cold' is nearly 20 minutes long and indeed it uses the time for a truly progressive epic grandiosity. There's also a spoken section adding the sense of drama, and the solos for both guitars and keyboards are ideally measured. Amazing piece! The brief, mainly acoustic guitar backed 'As' bookends the album that also started with a short vocal oriented track. I wouldn't quite announce this as a perfect prog album -- actually it may be a bit too "perfection-seeking" and calculated in all its pompous dynamics -- but definitely it's very charming if you enjoy pastoral delicacy combined with the usual "think big" symph prog. Anthony Phillips meets Camel meets Yes.

Latest members reviews

5 stars THE GIFT returns with the superb follow up to 2006's debut 'Awake And Dreaming'. This time round we have a founder member Mike Morton (vocals, keyboards, 12 string guitar, flute), David Lloyd (electric & acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards) and Joseph Morton (drums & percussion), accompanied by sever ... (read more)

Report this review (#1197398) | Posted by PH | Tuesday, June 24, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The Gift return after an eight year hiatus following the much lauded 'Awake and Dreaming', After many highs and lows and line-up changes, including a new co-collaborator (David Lloyd), frontman Mike Morton has produced an album that touches on dark themes but always has hope and dynamism. S ... (read more)

Report this review (#1172567) | Posted by Hutchy123 | Thursday, May 8, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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