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Mostly Autumn

Prog Folk

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Mostly Autumn Dressed in Voices album cover
3.87 | 212 ratings | 6 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Saturday Night (5:09)
2. Not Yours to Take (5:01)
3. Running (4:33)
4. See You (0:23)
5. Home (4:39)
6. First Day at School (7:28)
7. Down by the River (4:41)
8. Skin on Skin (5:54)
9. The House on the Hill (4:23)
10. The Last Day (6:27)
11. Dressed in Voices (5:49)
12. The Library (4:29)
13. Footsteps (0:29)
14. Box of Tears (3:52)

Total Time 63:17

Bonus CD from 2014 SE:
1. Silhouettes of Stolen Ghosts (3:18)
2. Wastelands (2:06)
3. Teardrop of Flame (5:21)
4. Dance Until the Dawn Invades (3:18)
5. Stepping Stones (4:05)
6. Would You... (4:16)
7. One You Mean (2:37)
8. Skin on Skin (instrumental) (3:37)
9. Lady Rainbows (2:37)

Total Time 31:15

Line-up / Musicians

- Olivia Sparnenn / lead vocals, percussion
- Bryan Josh / lead vocals, lead, rhythm & acoustic guitars, keyboards, producer
- Liam Davison / electric & slide guitars
- Iain Jennings / keyboards, Hammond organ
- Anne-Marie Helder / flute (10,14,2.2,2.7), backing vocals (14)
- Andy Smith / bass
- Alex Cromarty / drums

- B. J. Cole / pedal steel guitar (9)
- Troy Donockley / high whistle (9), bouzouki (8)

Releases information

Artwork: Suzanne Bielby

CD Mostly Autumn Records ‎- AUT0345 (2014, UK)
2CD Mostly Autumn Records ‎- AUT0344 (2014, UK) Limited edition with bonus disc

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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MOSTLY AUTUMN Dressed in Voices ratings distribution

(212 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MOSTLY AUTUMN Dressed in Voices reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Second Life Syndrome
4 stars Mostly Autumn is a name that I had heard for many years, but I never got the chance to hear their work until the sublime "The Ghost Moon Orchestra". Needless to say, after that surreal and wonderful album, I was so happy to see them release a new album called "Dressed in Voices". The eerie and lonely artwork is a fantastic introduction to this superb album.

Mostly Autumn has been a staple of progressive folk music for many years. The soft and docile female vocals are such a contrast to the Floydian guitars and the haunting atmospheres. Olivia Sparenenn provides the rich vox, and, oh, what a voice! Her highs are perfect, and her lows are gorgeous. She carries the album tremendously. The warm mix of male vocals, too, provides diversity and structure.

Instrumentally, "Dressed in Voices" takes the Mostly Autumn foundation to new heights and new places. I was instantly impressed with the big sound of the orchestrations, and the maturity and breadth of the music. I think a perfect example of this is the track "First Day of School", which contains a huge melody that soars and expands and feels all encompassing. I noticed that the guitars this time around are rather diverse. They remind me of Oldfield, Hackett, and Gilmour all at once, but the true genius of the solos and lines are never lost.

This band plays like a well-oiled machine or a single unit. The blaring flutes, the inventive bass and cool drums, and the incredible keys are all played with skill and elegance. Indeed, elegance is the primary adjective for this band and this album. Every track is played with finesse and artistry.

One of my biggest impressions of "Dressed in Voices" is the excellence found in each track. Each and every track has a beautiful, memorable melody that feels alive and vibrant. From the climaxes of "Saturday Night" and "Not Yours to Take" to the gigantic emotions of "First Day of School" and epic guitars of "Down by the River", this album fires on all cylinders. I honestly can't pick a favorite, as all of the tracks feature what I love so much about this band: climactic structures, haunting melodies, elegant instruments, flavorful guitars, and incredible vocals.

Mostly Autumn has struck gold with this wonderful album. It has a different tone than their last album, and I'm seriously impressed with the guitars, especially. There is so much space and so much gentility and dignity in this music, and so many stories to tell. Progressive folk is so good at telling stories, and Mostly Autumn is one of the best at this. Beauty is rare these days, so I recommend that you hear this album soon.

Review by lazland
5 stars I have every Mostly Autumn studio recording made, and a fair smattering of live products, as well. It is fair to say, then, that I am a fan. I was tempted firstly by the charms of Heather Findlay, but was not particularly phased by her leaving and being replaced by her old backing singer, Olivia Sparnenn, because I had listened to her doing a sterling job on main man Bryan Josh's solo extravaganza, Through These Eyes. My optimism was rewarded when the band put out two extremely good albums in Go Well Diamond Heart and The Ghost Moon Orchestra.

However, I have never awarded them the five star accolade, and, indeed, have stated on more than one review that this band seemed to be searching for that definitive album, that absolute statement which screamed out buy me, because this is my best.

On Dressed In Voices, they have, finally, achieved it. Quite why this wonderful English ensemble attracts so little attention on this site is beyond me, because the brand of prog folk, heavy prog and rock has been scintillating for some time, now, and, in Josh, our genre has a one of the few guitarists who can be honestly compared with axe gods of days of yore without becoming a little blushed with embarrassment at such a statement.

Dressed In Voices is a genuine concept album, and, it is fair to say, has as its subject matter a fairly dark state of affairs. It is the story of a murder, a gruesome murder, and how that murder encapsulates an entire lifetime of memories, dreams, hopes, and unfulfilled expectations in those seconds between the act itself and the eternal time to pass on. For no better example of what I mean in terms of yearning and damned intelligent lyric writing (set against a very dark undertone generated by the band), then hear Home, the song that Josh was born to write, and is heart rending in its emotion. The guitar solo is fantastic as it soars.

Like all of the finest concept albums, Dressed In Voices deserves to be heard in its entirety, and treated as one organic whole. I have waited for quite some time, and more than a few listens, before setting down my thoughts to this review, just in case the thrill of the first few listens wore out. It didn't. This record gets damn better with each and every single listen. It cries out intelligence.

More than anything else, you know, it is actually an uplifting piece of work. How? You might well ask, given the subject matter. Well, the answer is easy, really. As good as the band are (and Iain Jennings, in particular, has never sounded so good on keys), the core of all in this album is the newlywed Bryan and Olivia. And, you know what? This is an album that has love dripping all over the place, and that is what makes it so special. Listening to the pair of them harmonising on First Day At School, the longest single track here at seven and a half minutes long, is a perfect example of this. On The Last Day, Olivia demonstrates just why she is the finest female vocalist in today's prog scene. It is a delightful, plaintive, soaring performance that simply has to be heard to be believed, and, believe me, has love screaming out, as if it is the last moment she will share with her man, remembering Spirits of Autumn Past, indeed. Old fans will, by the way, adore the nod towards that great old track, with wonderful flute by the recently departed Anne-Marie Helder.

The band have, in the past, tended to veer a bit towards different styles on albums as a whole. So, The Last Bright Light and Passengers were strong prog folk albums, whilst Storms Over Still Waters lent to heavier territory. This album is the perfect fusion of all of the multitude of influences and experiences of its main players, and they move effortlessly between melodic, symphonic, heavy, and Celtic infused music. Skin on Skin is perhaps the most obvious example, with a melodic beginning, with sensitive vocals, morphing into a wonderful wall of sound with some exceptionally complex drumming, especially, by Alex Cromerty, whilst this delightful noise then segues into a quite beautiful female led acoustic piece in The House On The Hill.

Mostly Autumn have ceased to threaten with this album. It gets a very easy five stars. I urge all reading this review to get out and buy the definitive album from a band who really deserve to be packing out stadia (not that they would want to, of course!). The band have provided me with a very difficult choice for album of the year in what is proving to be a very strong and enjoyable 2014, for, believe me, this is every inch as good as Road Of Bones.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Finally! I said, 'Finally!'

I began my love affair with Mostly Autumn when they released their magical first album, 1999's "For All We Shared", a highly intoxicating mix of Pink Floyd mannerisms including that whopping guitar sound , celestial female vocals courtesy of Heather Findlay, sprinkled with Celtic ornamentation by using fiddle, Uillean pipes, Tin whistles etc...This exciting formula kept on giving amazing albums, "The Spirit of Autumn Past" and "The Last Bright Light" and I became a devout fan. Then with "Passengers", it really felt like a chapter was being closed, and I started instead gravitating towards the Breathing Space project, a parallel group led by keysman Ian Jennings and featuring Olivia Spannern, who at that juncture was supplying backing voices for Findlay. From 2005 's "Storms Over Still Water" up to 2012's "Ghost Moon Orchestra", a span of five lukewarm albums tempered my enthusiasm for this once glorious band and many commentators noted this dip in stylistics (calling it a poppier diversion). In the interim, Heather left for a still to date invisible solo career, now replaced by the masterful Olivia, who remains a phenomenal voice. This flux period seemed to indicate a certain 'lost in the desert' attitude, Josh somehow losing focus of what made the original concept so attractive. His voice got growly, his guitar playing becoming less attractive and the songs suffered from a lack of emotion, as if formulaic methodology was the best method for success. Many a prog fan despaired but three important elements came to the rescue. Firstly, master keyboardist Iain Jennings ended Breathing Space a few years ago and began improving the raw misdirection by adorning new found melodies with dense keyboard artistry. Secondly, Olivia who literally shone with BS, was finally thrust into the forefront, so much so that the seemingly depressed Bryan Josh saw a relighting of his muse when realizing that the two had fallen in love. I will state this again for the record, nothing is more inspiring than love or , its contrary, separation /divorce to ignite the hidden inner light, the source of so much emotional creativity. Finally, in terms of attitude, I truly suspect that Bryan Josh is ultimately the big difference, his fiery passion and shy sensitivity literally overflowed on the first 3 MA albums, as he was dealing with the passing of his father (a deep pain I also have had to endure), then he got caught up in the business world, should have known it would make him frustrated as well as miserable and then, along came Olivia and boom! The passion is back and it's called love. The single most powerful emotion ever. Josh now deliberately infuses more diversity in his guitar playing, no more an overt Gilmour fan boy. His fret board playing is still inspired by the Gilmour/Latimer camp but there are also slick references to Hendrix, Clapton and even some 'country style' picking a la Knopfler. His tones are way more varied and his soloing is truly earth shaking (as on the dizzying title track), all due to his rekindled inspiration, his beating heart leading the way, writing hugely romantic melodies that are both grandiose and timeless.

As expressed recently by Lazland so eloquently, we fans have been waiting for that return to form that made Mostly Autumn so impressive. I believe that the band members have delivered on all fronts, as this release oozes desire, lust, sweet loving, profound exaltation, giddiness , all side effects from being happily married and still basking in all the euphoria, as well as Mr. Jennings coming through with some inspired melodies and orchestrations.

Each song is an outright jewel, the soft sensual songs are loaded with feeling and delivered with impeccable grace, even Josh has softened his voice to how it once was. Olivia proves once again that she is the current prog female singer queen (Annie Haslam was great but now she is history) and she definitely reigns supreme, as her voice as well as her presence are simply awe-inspiring. While Gavin Griffiths is a phenomenal drummer, Alex Cromarty has a thumping pulse that caught my ear many times in listening to this monster album. Needless to repeat again, Jennings supplies gorgeous and copious piano, subtle organ and sublime synthesizer throughout, providing incredible depth and drama to the arrangements. There are way more "Evergreen"-like moments, soft and elaborate ballads that are overflowing with goose bumping feeling, such as the swooning and stunning "Running", the woozy delight of "House on the Hill" and the intense euphoria of " The Last Day". The rockier songs are razor sharp as witnessed on "Down by the River" and the bombastic disposition of the highly symphonic opener "Saturday Night". Sophistication shows up on the more elaborate prog symphonicity of "First Day of School", a style that has been reported missing since the 'Passengers' album! There are also a fair amount of duets (Bryan and Olivia wrapped around the mike stand) and the results are scintillating! On "Not Yours to Take", the interaction is a pure delight, a sensual fountain of eternal love and unbridled passion.

Not only have Mostly Autumn found their groove but this album just may become the best they have ever done. Love conquers all, the artwork beyond amazing, a true return to form. Stay deeply in love and the music will flow eternally, I am impressed beyond all expectations. Sadly, many prog fans will miss this one and lose out on a sheer masterpiece, easily among 2014's top 5 albums.

Bravo! I wish I was in such delirious love! BTW, this highly romantic review is dedicated to that scintillating artist, our very own Kati.

5 choir gowns

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 658

Mostly Autumn had their origins in the mind of Bryan Josh in the early of 1990 but didn't come to fruition until 1998. Josh had been working on song material for several years. Other important founding members were the singer Heather Findley and the keyboardist Iain Jennings, who also played a major role in the compositions. Mostly Autumn blend progressive and atmospheric rock with motifs from the Celtic music paired with Pink Floyd and Genesis' sounds. In addition to guitars, keyboards, bass and drums, flutes, pipes, bagpipes, violins, etc., complement their type of sound.

"Dressed In Voices" is the eleventh studio album of Mostly Autumn and was released in 2014. The line up on the album is Bryan Josh (lead vocals, lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars and keyboards), Olivia Sparnenn (lead vocals and percussion), Liam Davison (electric and slide guitars), Iain Jennings (keyboards and Hammond organ), Anne- Marie Helder (backing vocals and flute), Andy Smith (bass guitar) and Alex Cromarty (drums). The album had also the participation of B. J. Cole (pedal steel guitar) and Troy Donockley (high whistle and bouzouki), both as guest musicians.

"Dressed In Voices" is a conceptual album based around the cold-blooded murder of an ordinary guy who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and challenging the murderer to see what he has taken away, both the life before the bullet and the subsequent life of which the victim has been deprived. It's a very dark theme and Josh questioned himself during the writing process as to whether the subject matter was just too bleak. But, the final result is a stunning piece of work that cajoles every emotion from the listener with great lyrics and astounding music.

"Dressed In Voices" has fourteen tracks. "Saturday Night" sets the scene for the story that is about to unfold in the following 60 minutes. It starts with a dark sequence, quickly followed by the high notes of Olivia. This is a promising opening. "Not Yours To Take" is a stunningly sculpted track from a band that is working as a very tight unit. This is a staccato track sung by Josh. The harmonies here are surprisingly fitting. "Running" features the main vocals by Olivia. It has an excellent combination between the voice of Olivia, the soaring guitar of Josh and Jennings' keyboards. "See You" isn't almost a track. With its 23 seconds it fits the theme, but it's superfluous. "Home" is a rock song with many interesting parts that can keep my attention all over the time. It's built upon with high contrasts like Olivia's voice versus Josh's guitar solo. "First Day At School" is the lengthiest track on the album. It's an example of a simple song backing of piano and strings, fronted by the male/female harmonizing. This is a track of contrasting halves, the first one is a ballad and the second is more up-tempo. "Down By The River" is a direct rock song, as happened on many of their recent albums. It sounds as a heavy rock played in the early 70's. It's strange to hear the contrast with the previous song. "Skin On Skin" is a traditional folk song from the earliest days of Mostly Autumn. It's the folksiest song on the album. It has a totally different atmosphere from the previous song and proves that the band has a distinct style very own. "The House On The Hill" is an acoustic traditional country music. It's a beautiful ballad sung with double vocal lines by Olivia. This is a quiet song with the aim of calming the listener after the loads of energy of the previous songs. "The Last Day" is a dramatic ballad eminently sung by Olivia supported by Jennings' keyboards. Jennings composed the music with Josh taking care of the lyrics. It reminds me the first albums of the band. This is another highlight on the album. "Dressed In Voices" has nice acoustic guitars, angelic voices and good lyrics. It has a quiet acoustic beginning and a guitar outburst in the end. All the good qualities of Mostly Autumn can be heard here. "The Library" is a slow short bluesy song, in the vein of David Gilmour, with Josh singing in the high regions of his voice, supported halfway by Olivia. "Footsteps" is another very short instrumental. It has some dark and looming sounds of footsteps, an intro for the last song. "Box Of Tears" ends the album with impressive lyrics. It's a beautiful ballad emotionally sung by Olivia with Jennings's piano and Josh's acoustic guitar on the background. This is a great closing track to the album.

Conclusion: "Dressed In Voices" is another excellent album of Mostly Autumn which seems to have brought together the perfect fusion of their influences. Previous albums have hinted at this fusion, but, invariably seemed to fall into the prog folk or the heavier side. Here, the band weaves between the melodic, symphonic, heavy and Celtic influences seamlessly. It has also a perfect interplay between the voices of Olivia and Josh, which is one of the huge plus points of Mostly Autumn, to have two vocalists who are individually superb but also harmonize in an amazing manner. To the usual followers of Mostly Autumn, "Dressed In Voices", can be a true revelation. And it can also be a great starting point for people who don't know yet the music of Mostly Autumn. "Dressed In Voices" is an excellent entry into their world. The album gets better with a repeated listening. "Dressed In Voices" is another Mostly Autumn's refined hour.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

3 stars Mostly Autumn still wears the folk tag on this site because of their first few albums on which Celtic influences were quite obvious. These were represented by violin player Bob Faulds and flautist Angela Gordon and, at least to my knowledge, heavily supported by vocalist and lyricist Heather F ... (read more)

Report this review (#1469511) | Posted by Theo Verstrael | Thursday, September 24, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Since "The Last Bright Light" (2001), Mostly Autumn had not released a studio album worthy of their talent and know-how. Even though each of the 20 studio and live albums released since the turn of the new century has a few gems, most of their content doesn't deliver much more than beating aro ... (read more)

Report this review (#1379527) | Posted by MELNIBONÉ | Saturday, March 7, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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