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The Gift

Symphonic Prog

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The Gift Why the Sea Is Salt album cover
3.82 | 117 ratings | 5 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2016

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. At Sea (10:28)
2. Sweeper of Dreams (5:18)
3. Tuesday's Child (9:44)
4. The Tallest Tree (6:14)
5. All These Things (20:43)
6. At Sea - Reprise (Ondine's Song) (5:15)

Total Time 57:42

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Morton / lead vocals
- Dave Lloyd / guitars, backing vocals, mixing
- Leroy James / guitars, backing vocals
- Gabriele Baldocci / keyboards
- Stefan Dickers / bass
- Neil Hayman / drums, percussion

- Steve Hackett / lead guitar (4)
- Anthony Phillips / 12-string guitar (4)
- Peter Jones / Irish whistle (4)

Releases information

Artwork: Mark Buckingham

CD Bad Elephant Music ‎- BEM034 (2016, UK)

Digital album

Thanks to tszirmay for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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THE GIFT Why the Sea Is Salt ratings distribution

(117 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (35%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

THE GIFT Why the Sea Is Salt reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I took my sweet time to get my hands on this only because I knew that "Why the Sea is Salt" is going to get me, anyway. I love the Gift, their first album "Awake & Dreaming" is a perennial classic that rekindles many fond memories of travelling throughout North America , playing dizzying prog at the traffic lights in some small Kentucky town, the local folk looking at me askance but polite. "Land of Shadows" was, by Mike Morton's admission, a murkier affair, remarkably dense and demanding but still 'gifted' with some fabulous moments. Obviously a more personal affair that emoted with palpitation. But a period of intense touring as well as rekindling the partnership found on the debut with guitarist Leroy James has altered the course for this London band, taking it straight up into a vertical of dizzying heights. Together with the talented fretman David Lloyd, James seems inspired and involved. I have always felt that the talent shown on "Awake and Dreams" was too good just to fade away. It won't with this stellar release, I can all assure you. Consecration? Proof? What would you like? Mike Morton is one of the finest singers in prog anywhere. That being firmly stated, the quality of the instrumentalists is off the charts, with new bassist Stefan Dickers and drum maestro Neil Hayman in complete harmony and "in the zone". Keyboardist is Italian Gabriele Baldocci, adding RPI?like stylistics to the brew, loaded with innovation and taste. Throw in guests such as ex-Genesis guitarists Steve Hackett and Anthony Phillips and Peter Jones, who quickly is becoming the 'enfant terrible' of modern prog, here displaying some Irish whistling pizzazz. This time around, there is less gloom and more energy, a welcome twist for this stirring band in its ascendency, proposing tracks that are immediate, ravishing and expertly blooming with confidence. When directing a larger epic, all the talent comes to the fore, especially Gabriele when unleashing his classical heritage, supported by clever riffs and leads from the dual axes, expertly fueled by the rhythm corps.

So it's only fitting to kick off with a 10 minute musical voyage, "At Sea" glides effortlessly into the bay, splashing excitedly, buoyed by a dedicated vision. "At Sea- Reprise" at the end will shut the parentheses. The elegant piano takes the spotlight in thrilling fashion, as Gabriele shows his considerable mettle, with bass guitar as adventure companion, rippling flourishes and an outright classical aroma. Shimmering guitar reverberations heighten the emboldened mood, as the signature starts evolving towards a rock riff, a tortuous synth leading the charge. The arrangement turns into a rather complicate formula of swirling notes, the electric guitar raging, massive drums pounding and that darn piano acting out romantic fantasies. Mike Morton then seizes the mike and intones in fine manner the salty refrain, 'steering the ship of fools' into cascades of ocean spray, highly evocative of tall ships scouring the waves. The main melody bursts through, seagulls screeching overhead, as the guitar slices over the white water crests. Very nice indeed!

The more traditional neo-prog of "Sweeper of Dreams" is there to remind fans that they seek to entertain and tell stories that have meaning. Nevertheless, the gifted sounds are jarring, explosive and razor-sharp, the thumping rhythmic tandem in particular, the disturbed snarl in Mike's voice unrepentant. The dual guitar growls interlace nicely, a momentary vocal tinted with childlike innocence and savage insanity,

Celestial swoons, colossal symphonics and unabashed passion coalesce on the magnificent "Tuesday's Child", a typical prog piece of endearing beauty and trembling fragility, the guitars mingling in pastoral delight, acoustic and electric feelings, almost a classic the Strawbs?like feel, Mike doing the melancholic nostalgia thingy, also recouping that slight Western pickin' style and sound that was so prevalent on Awake and Dreaming. The 'sing-along in the pub as we guzzle our brew' sensation really leaps out at the listener. Now throw in some Hackettisms to complete the picture and kneel at the shrine of classic prog, once again. A thriller of maximum proportions, as typical The Gift tune as one could hope for.

In response to the yearning for never ending adventure, "The Tallest Tree" features the guests and it takes on a life of its own, Ant Phillips leading on the 12 string and Steve Hackett taking over just like in the old days (LOL). Definitely a heady tribute to the glory days of musical discovery, missing only a Ghost and perhaps some Geese to complete the bucolic picture. Prog lullaby, evocative and memorable, Mike giving quite a performance. 'Only love remains'. When Steve enters the fray, one cannot help but smile, realizing the genius of this crafty musician, a true master of long sustained notes, lyrical purity and heavenly discourse.

"All These Things" is the mammoth epic and the showcase piece, without any doubt. Over 20 minutes of inspiring adventure, a strange fusion of acoustic genius, unremorseful angst, odd hand claps and an abrupt church organ flurry that asks 'to kiss the chosen one'. Bassman Stef Dickers does the Chas Cronk routine perfectly, pushing booming notes in all directions, and prepping the table for a full-blown prog workout, introducing raunchy dual guitar spasms, roiling organ splotches and a heavy yet driving pulse. Deep Purple comes to mind at one point, featuring a series of blitzkrieg guitar explosions that shiver, shake and quake. Oh my! Thick density and apoplectic rage; then, out of the blue, a piano! Halfway through, crystalline licks alter the mindscape, a melancholia-ridden lament sung expertly by Mister Morton and the looped bass pirouetting in the Andalusian night sky. 'Where the heart meets the horizon' intones Captain Morton, one leg firmly placed on the rum barrel, the proverbial parrot on his shoulder, telling his wise man's tale, piano in tow. The astute poetry really hits home, just as the pace quickens, a concoction of emotional consequences best described by one who has seen the world and attempted to understand. The music is very British, with just a hint of twang and countrified air, again referencing classic the Strawbs, in my opinion. A modern follow up to the glorious "Ghosts" album, me thinks. Lloyd and James doing the Lambert/Cousins act perfectly or so it seems to my ears.

The return voyage heading back to the bay is evident on "At Sea Reprise", a weary but content air of satisfaction in having traveled in exalted company, the deck swabbed cleanly, the sails unfurled and the rudder held by firm and calloused hands, this is quite the ride. A howling synthesizer leads the ship into the dry dock of restful awakening. This just might be the top album of 2016, bar any last minute interception at the goal line. Also one of the finest cover artwork in eons, all shiny and glossy. Multiple return visits will only accentuate the quality of what is being proposed here.

5 Saline solutions

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The world does not really need a rebirth of 1970s BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, but here we have it, and they're getting a lot of attention. I don't get it--this longing or need for repeat or replication of old bands. I want something new and refreshing and inventive and creative and different.

Best songs: the MIKE RUTHERFORD/NOEL MACALLA-sounding, "At Sea" (Reprise) (5:15) (8/10); the slower, more melody-oriented Southern Rock, 3. "Tuesday's Child" (9:44) (8/10); the bland ANT PHILLIPS-sounding, 4. "The Tallest Tree" (6:14) with its guest performances from Anthony Phillips (12-string guitar), Steve Hackett (lead guitar), and Peter Jones (Irish whistle) (8/10), and; the cheesy and second-rate instrument choices (and embarrassingly poor singing) of the album's melodramatic epic, 5. "All These Things" (22:43) (7/10).

A solid three star album; good, but definitely not anything special.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Honestly, I rate THE GIFT as one of the premier progressive-rock bands at this juncture. What I've always liked about Mike Morton and his squad is that their output is very melodic and soft in places, yet really complex and intriguing - as it's developed to a high degree of sophistication on the ... (read more)

Report this review (#1641874) | Posted by PH | Saturday, November 12, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is The Gift in their third incarnation on their third album. Why the Sea is Salt is both exhilarating and challenging as the band, and audience to a degree, step out of their respective comfort zones. The writing team has expanded, the band play as a far tighter unit and, from the evidence o ... (read more)

Report this review (#1637008) | Posted by Cetacean282 | Saturday, October 29, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The incredible third album from The Gift is a huge step forward for this ever evolving band. With the return of original collaborator Leroy James and the addition of the amazing drums skills of Neil Hayman and the classically trained keyboard player Gabriele Baldocci, The Gift have moved into th ... (read more)

Report this review (#1636868) | Posted by The Hutch | Saturday, October 29, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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