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Mostly Autumn

Prog Folk

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Mostly Autumn The Spirit of Autumn Past album cover
3.78 | 179 ratings | 22 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Winter Mountain (6:55)
2. This Great Blue Pearl (5:41)
3. Pieces of Love (4:15)
4. Please (6:10)
5. Evergreen (8:00)
6. Styhead Tarn (3:32)
7. Shindig (3:07)
8. Blakey Ridge / When the Waters Meet (2:12)
9. Underneath the Ice (3:49)
10. Through the Windows (4:41)
11. The Spirit of Autumn Past (Part 1) (2:43)
12. The Spirit of Autumn Past (Part 2) (6:30)
13. The Gap Is Too Wide (11:37)

Total Time 69:12

Line-up / Musicians

- Heather Findlay / vocals, acoustic 6- & 12-string guitars, bodhrán, tambourine
- Bryan Josh / vocals, electric, acoustic 6- & 12-string guitars, e-bow
- Liam Davison / electric, slide, acoustic 6- & 12-string guitars, backing vocals
- Iain Jennings / keyboards, Hammond, vocals
- Bob Faulds / 4- & 5-string violins
- Angela Goldthorpe (Gordon) / flute, whistles
- Stuart Carver / bass guitar
- Rob McNeil / drums

- Marissa Claughn / cello (10,13)
- Troy Donockley / Uilleann pipes (13)
- The Christchurch Singers / chorus vocals (13)

Releases information

Artwork: Chris Sands

CD Cyclops ‎- CYCL 082 (1999, UK)

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MOSTLY AUTUMN The Spirit of Autumn Past ratings distribution

(179 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MOSTLY AUTUMN The Spirit of Autumn Past reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
5 stars If possible, this album is even better than MOSTLY AUTUMN's debut album "For All We Shared-" (1998). They've still got the power, the great melodies and the good musicianship that I liked on their first release. The music is a mix between Celtic folk music and rock with reminiscences to GENESIS and PINK FLOYD. This album is less inspired by Celtic folk music and has a more symphonic approach then their previous album. The highlights are "Please", "Evergreen" and the closing 11 minutes epic track "The Gap Is Too Wide". I guess there isn't anything more to say about MOSTLY AUTUMN's albums than: Buy them now!
Review by Kotro
5 stars This was my first Mostly Autumn purchase, after hearing "The Gap is too Wide" and dowloading "Music Inspired By The Lord Of The Rings". I must say it didn't struck me at first, as I was antecipating something more like "MIBTLOTR". However, after a couple more listens, I was simply overblown. The production sound better, and the music is far more complex and well-built. The first four songs sound less proggy and more poppy, apart from some bits, but that doesn't take merit from them. They are all very well composed and played. The only flaw is Bryan Josh's voice on three of these four, but he makes up for it with his fantastic guitar playing (especially on "This Great Blue Pearl"). Anyway, after a four good songs intro, the whole shebang kicks in. The fiifth song is among the finnest pieces of music I haver had the pleasure of hearing. It uses a formula very dear to Mostly Autumn (slow acoustin beggining, with Heather singing and lot's of flute, speeding gently to a climax and ending with an amazing electric guitar solo by Josh). However, I don't think they ever did so well as on "Evergreen". It is followed by the folkier side of the album, the space-folk sequence "Styhead Tarn", "Shindig", "Blakey Ridge/When The Waters Meet" and "Underneath the Ice". The gentle ballad "Through the Windows" and the mini-suite "The Spirit of Autumn Past" are again very well played, but suffer from the same problem as the songs in the beggining, which is to say Josh's untrained voice. But again, he and Jennings make it all up and up with the song's ending. The album then finishes with the song that started it all for me. I don't need to go on and praise the beauty and wonderfull composition of "The Gap is too Wide". You probaly realized by now that this is a song that can really make a difference in an album. So, how to rate this album? In good fairness, it deserves a 4-star, but since its ratings are low now, and being that it is essential in MY collection, I give it a 5-star, only because there is no 4,5.
Review by Tony Fisher
5 stars I discovered this band from this site and have seen them live twice in the last two weeks. This was my first studio album of theirs and it has to be said that it is already one of my all time favourite albums. The playing from all the members is exquisite, Heather Findlay's voice is marvellous and Bryan Josh (who freely admits he can't sing) actually does a very good job on the tracks where he takes the lead as well as being an excellent guitarist. Musically, they have elements of many of the great bands of the 70s, especially Renaissance, Tull and Floyd with Celtic elements thrown in, but they are completely individual, not copies. This album has a lot of folk influences but they can rock when they choose. Winter Mountain is a superb opener with an addictive hook and a lovely quiet middle section, Evergreen is simply one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard and the folky, mainly instrumental tracks in the middle (Styhead Tarn/Shindig/Blakey Ridge/When Waters Meet) make me want to get up and dance; full of flute, violin and amazing keyboards. The Spirit of Autumn Past and the Gap is too Wide form a brilliant conclusion with Troy Donockley's haunting pipes forming the outro. The other tracks are all enjoyable and grow on you with time; there is nothing here that could possibly be classed as filler. The production and sound is near perfect and I also love the artwork; the front and back photos are taken in one of my favourite pubs, the Lion Inn at Blakey in North Yorkshire, a place that they (and I) have a real affinity for. To conclude, they are simply the best band currently active and this album is a total gem; they deserve far wider recognition. Rating? 5* by a mile. If you don't have it, you are missing out on a real treat.
Review by chessman
3 stars I got this, along with 'The Last Bright Light', last week, and have been playing the two continuously since. As is usual with this band, they start off the album with a couple of seconds from the end of the previous album. It is quite an effective gimmick, hearing the distant strains of 'Heroes Never Die', briefly played through a filter of windy sound effects. Then the first track kicks in, 'Winter Mountain'. It has to be said here, the vocals are the weakest point on this album. Bryan Josh, by his own admission, can't sing. However, on subsequent albums he has improved a lot. Here he sounds timid and awkward at times, never more so than on 'Through The Window'. Even Heather Findley, who can sing, sounds somewhat hesitant and tremulous at times. Nevertheless, these are minor gripes. The opener is a decent effort, with nice keyboards and a mid tempo feel to it. Then comes 'This Great Blue Pearl'. This starts off as a quite average song, but is rescued by some tremendous guitar playing from Josh at the end. A good song this, overall. I have to say here, that, although this band are often touted as 'the next Pink Floyd', I hear very little influence in most of the songs. Josh's guitar style owes more to Steve Rothery, to my ears. 'Pieces Of Love' is a lovely atmospheric piece, on which Heather Findley shines. Quiet and melodic, and melancholic, it is very nice indeed, but too brief, if anything. 'Please' is a good song too, with nice instrumentation and restrained, but effective guitar. Nice keyboards here off Iain Jennings, too. 'Evergreen' is a highlight amongst the songs here. Again we have effective vocals from Findley, and at the end, another superb guitar solo. Excellent stuff. 'Styhead Tarn' is, for me, another highlight on this album. Short and mainly instrumental, it builds up beautifully, with wonderful musicianship, and a repetitive line sung louder and louder by Findley. The next three tracks are the folkiest on the cd, and merge nicely into each other. 'Shindig' starts off almost as an Irish piece, and grows more powerful towards the end as the guitar is brought in. 'Blakey Ridge/When Waters Meet' are treated as one piece and are very folky. (Not a hint of Floyd here!) 'Underneath The Ice' is a song that doesn't seem to go anywhere, and is, in fact, quite a subdued piece, but good nevertheless. 'Through The Window', as mentioned before, is probably the weakest on the vocal front, and maybe my least favourite track on here. Driven along by some good acoustic guitar, it is almost a bedsit song, and is obviously personal to Josh. I can't say I dislike it though. 'The Spirit Of Autumn Past pt1' is a short instrumental, and very easy on the ears. 'Pt 2', which follows it, is a longer song, with good vocals. Mid paced, I find it very enjoyable. Finally comes the epic 'The Gap Is Too Wide', which is, I believe, a Mostly Autumn classic, and I can see why. It starts with moody keyboards and builds into a very memorable tune, and the guitar work at the end is stunning. A cracking track! Overall, I prefer their next two albums, but this is still a good offering. A band that should be more widely known than it is, I only got into them in the last three months, but I haven't been disappointed. Worth a listen or three!
Review by Sean Trane
2 stars Between 2.5 and 3 stars!!!

Well I was never really a fan of group that openly declare their flame for older bands and set out to sound like them but also do just about everything to link their name to the great Ancients, in hope to gather enough attention and make a fast buck. Don't get me wrong, I'm not accusing MA of wilfully plagiarising or cloning Floyd (if on the whole they are better musicians than their idols, songwriting-wise, they are far from equalling them), but in their early period, they clung like leeches to the Floyd name (as if their lives depended on it) with those stinky "Classic Rock" items and their New Pink Floyd posters. Whether that was their or Cyclops label's strategy is irrelevant, the fact is that they were disgraceful in doing so, and for this writer, this will probably be held against them for many more years to come. Rant over!! (I hope ;-)

The thing that strikes is that they were eight in recording this album when it appears that five would be enough, and with Brian Josh holding the overwhelming majority f the writing credits, with the luscious Heather, the discreet Faulds and the shy Ian Jennings sharing the leftover crumbs. Professionally speaking, the album is rather excellently executed, the finished product rather impressive (well I would've found a more evocative front artwork), and the commercial approach.. (Ok!! change of subject ;-)

So where's the problem? Well, it is exactly where it hurts: artistically! I sense the whole concept fairly shallow (maybe a I should say hollow instead), as if it was some kind of theme and they got stuck with it and forced themselves to come out with a full album. This of course means your fair shake of fillers and lengths disguised as instrumental interplay. And as you'd expect, the autumn concept inevitably falls onto the "magical/mystical" forest life. Couldn't you just smell that one coming as you first read the album title? On the other hand, thankfully they avoid the troll/castle clichés. This is why I still would rather use the word hollow, because on the musical virtuosity, there is no lack of depth.

This is not to say that the music is helpless, quite the contrary, because there are some wonderful moments where the band strikes where it counts, even if a lot of those moments are fairly derivative of their idols and sometimes of Marillion (more the early- Hogarth period) and the odd Yes bit. Tracks like Evergreen and Gap Is Too Wide are close to awesome, even if a tad over-dramatic, it grabs you by the gut and you become like putty in Heather's hands. Counterbalancing cheesy, uninventive, predictable tracks like Through The Window and the title track, I guess.

But having seen the group in concert, I understand that they got their loyal following, because their cheesier moments are very communicative for the progheads, knowing that the superb Heather is subjugating them and the no-less babelicious flauter Angela is blinding them like the sun, forcing their unsuspecting victims to take the plunge in the fondue. And this is not even the real Swiss fondue with Emmenthal, Gruyère and Vacherin (or Apenzeller), but some cheap sounding one with Dutch and Finnish substitute copies. Yuuuuckkkk!!!.. ;-) The group uses and abuses clichés like they were on sale a "7 for the price of 2". Indeed their frequent uses of jigs are one of their more scandalous and cheesy aspects of their music. As I am the folk prog specialist of this site, I LOATHE jigs, as they are one of the worst folk clichés and I think that that particular type of song type does a huge dis-service/mis-favour to the entire folk music genre. This is one of my main gripe against Horslips, BTW! And in this album present, the jig parts come a little too often and regularly (of course they come in handy when they lost the momentum with their listeners), using them like crutches. Uilleann pipes (I like those) are also used a bit cheesily in the great closing , but I guess that was a lost piece of parmaggiano lost on the plate.

Now that I've spewed my bile all over the band via this review (tough but fair), I will now do away with the love part of my love/hate relation with Mostly Fall. How I envy Josh to share the stage with two so superb creatures and I'd be the happiest moose if my bed was my forest stage shared with those two graceful does.

Eeeehhmm!!!!.... I think you get the picture ;-)

As for the album, by all means don't go trusting me alone on this see for yourself, but remember my utterances when you listen to it.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars Mostly Autumn produced a mixed debut album. A dull mood, average compositions. Still, there were signs that it could only be better. Wonderful vocal harmonies to back up a good progressive-folk-rock music.

The album opens rather hardly : "Winter Mountain" has little to do with "Prog Folk" to be honest. It is quite a heavy song, but lacks of everything : mood, soli, harmony etc. It just sound noisy. Fortunately, the next "This Great Blue Pearl" will feature a superb guitar solo that only Gilmour could have played.

"Pieces Of Love" is a mellow folk-ballad. Heather sounds beautiful here. Unfortunately she will not be so much on the front end during this album. I just love her voice. Very melodic, just a beautiful song. A profund violin solo will add a special flavour to this quiet song.

Things will get even better with "Please". I guess that wit such a title, they only couldn't deceive their fans. This number gets back to their roots : powerful vocal harmonies and a slightly rockier tempo. A true MA classic structure I would say.

"Evergreen" is one of the long numbers on this album. It takes a while to kick off. Almost four minutes, and then I finally can listen to the MA I prefer : strong vocals, a Floydian guitar solo (once more) will close this number brilliantly. We'll even get some frensy during the finale. Just wonderful. One of the highlight so far.

"Styhead Tarn" will bring us back to normality. A filler which was not really necessary when you consider the lenght of the album (almost seventy minutes).

I most appreciate the band when playing live. Then, we get a condensed approach of their best numbers, which is fine with me. I am reviewing this album quiet late at night, and I had to listen to it again after "Pieces Of Love" because I just felt asleep (I mean it). I woke up for "Shinding" which is a full Scotish (or Celtic) folk number. It is definitely not the prototype of the songs I love. It might have been pleasant for a folklore ensemble... Fortuntalely, it is a short number... But there will be too many too short numbers on this album.

Obviously, the debuts of MA will not count with the best moments of the band : "Blakey Ridge, When Waters Meet" is a dull (but short) instrumental that will only be saved from mediocrity thanks to a nice violin play during the second (short) half. The Oriental influenced "Underneath The Ice" won't be remembered as a marvel, I'm afraid. Repetitive and boring. At this stage, I am really suffering. "Through The Window" sounds just the same to me. It only lift off a bit during the last part. But that's a bit short.

We are slowly reaching the end of the album with "The Spirit Of Autumn Past". Part one is a peaceful piano break which will introduce "Part Two". This piece of music of course can only please me thanks to its wonderful vocal harmony and chorus. Still, as they will say : "We're running out of time, But the time is still behind us". I love this song an awful lot, which only adds to my perplexity about this album.

So, I'm ready for the closing number. The longest one of this album. "The Gap Is Too Wide" : hopefully I' won't fell asleep again (it is almost 5 AM by now). We do not need to wait long for the judgement : wonderful vocal intro from Heater. For having seen some live moments of the band, I just can tell that she is beautiful and if I would only be a lot younger than I am, I would really like to philosophize with her about... whatever. Anyway, they told us that : "We're running out of time, but the time is still behind us", so what I am talking about !

She has a so brilliant voice ! This song is really closing the gap towards great numbers (actually, it is a really great one). The fantastic guitar break in the closing sequence is 100% Gilmouresque. But it is so great, so nice, so emotional that I can hardly resist. Would you join me Heather ? Oooooh ! I guess it's time to wake up.

This number is my fave on this album and belongs to my top five of the band. A brilliant number, indeed.

This album is not the one that will convince me. It is very pleasant at times (but too few of these moments are featured here to my ears). Precisely during 32'17". I am very hesitant for the rating. Actually five out of ten should represent my opinion quite faithfully. You need to separate the weath from the chaff in this album.

Since it is (not yet) possible to rate on a ten points scale, I will upgrade this one to three stars.

Review by Hercules
5 stars After a great debut, the second album is always a test of a band. Some (eg Marillion) succeed brilliantly. Others (eg Dire Straits) bomb. So after the excellent For all we Shared, Mostly Autumn had to come up with the goods. And they did.

From the moody opener Winter Mountain to the epic closer The Gap is too Wide, this album is an absolute feast of melody and musicianship. The first 4 tracks are all fine pieces, featuring some excellent vocal harmonies between Bryan Josh and Heather Findlay (his vocals only work when she sings with him) and great keyboard, violin and guitar work. Then the album explodes with the lovely, 8 minute Evergreen, probably the finest song ever recorded, starting with a haunting Findlay vocal and building to an epic climax with a glorious Josh solo. It them moves into a series of mostly instrumental folky tracks replete with violin, synths and flute and whistles, all of which convey stunning images and are quite breathtaking. Through the Window is another track where Bryan Josh laments the loss of his father and is touching and pleasant, but then the album takes off to new heights with the title track, featuring a stunning solo from Josh.

The closing epic, The Gap is too Wide is written by keyboards maestro Iain Jennings in memory of his mother and is gentle, beautifully sung by Heather Findlay and features some stunning keyboard and guitar work, culminating in a glorious uillean pipe solo from Troy Donockley.

In short, this is a quite brilliant album. I know the band (well Josh really) idolises Pink Floyd (as do I), but I really don't see a great deal of similarity between them and get very p****d off by those who criticise them for being clones, something they most definitely are not. Influence by Floyd, yes - but equally influenced by many other bands; there's hints of Renaissance, Camel, Fairport Convention and Genesis in there as well, all leading to a quite exceptional result. I recommend this to anyone with a soul, perhaps to be avoided only by those who like metal and more experimental prog.

Definitely one of my top 10 and well worthy of the highest grade.

Review by Fight Club
4 stars The Spirit of Autumn Past, the second album from this English folk/space rock band is quite a piece. They have a very unique sound combining a great deal of Pink Floyd influence with a strong celtic rock edge.

One of the things I love about this group is how they incorporate all their songwriting and techniques into such emotional pieces. They are trained musicians and have a lot of progressive rock influences, but they don't make that their strong point. Their strength lies in their ability to write music that hits your soul. Every note is placed in the right spot and every note has feeling. Bryan Josh may not play a great deal of notes, but every note he does play is filled with his life force. Strong examples of this would be the moving solos of "Evergreen" and "The Gap is Too Wide", which might be my favorite song this band has ever written. It starts of very slowly and gets you in a very pensive state of mind. Eventually it builds up into a very epic and emotional guitar/bag pipe solo. It's just beautiful fantastic music, and pretty easy to get into. One doesn't have to be a musician to appreciate this (hey even my dad loves it!). Highly recommended.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars The 1998 album was followed a year later by the second (which must mean another is due soon). There was a slight line-up change in the mean time, with a new drummer and whistle player, but the music is as strong as ever. Heather's vocals are more to the fore this time, although the harmonies still play an important role. During opener "Winter Mountain", the mood changes dramatically and her voice shines high above Bryan's, very much like Maddy Prior. In "Evergreen", her vocals carry the song, as the accompaniment is minimal and atmospheric. This use of atmosphere is best demonstrated in closing number "The Gap Is Too Wide". The tension very slowly mounts with Heather's vocals giving way to a stunning chorus. As it mounts even further, Bryan provides a soaring Dave Gilmour style guitar solo. The impression on hearing it for the first time is that the song will fade out, but that is not the case as Iona musician Troy Donockley makes a guest appearance on Uilleann Pipes to take over from Bryan. A wonderful album that is truly 'progressive' as they mix together many styles in a way to make them sounding fresh and vibrant.

Feedback #59, July 2000

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars A distinct step down in energy and potency from "For All We Shared", "Spirit of Autumn Past" tends to the more reflective side of the band. To be honest, this can be translated as "boring" at times, especially in the early going, as "Winter Mountain", "Pieces of Love" and, to a lesser extent, "Please", all suffer from lack of dynamics not to mention less than captivating melodies.

Mostly Autumn seem to be playing excess homage to Pink Floyd and their plodding nature, and even "Evergreen", a major improvement on its predecessors, suffers from this comparison. It does, however, feature some excellent harmonies and a dramatic solo by Bryan Josh. It must be said that he does not cut loose as often as I would like here. "Skyhead Tarn", "Blakely Ridge" and "underneath the Ice" all seems isolating and depressive, but "Shindig" serves as an instrumental blueprint for what would become one of their best songs, "Dark Before the Dawn" from "The Last Bright Light". "Through the Window" is an excellent ballad which features Josh at his best both compositionally and vocally, a truly lovely piece that sounds oddly like British folk rock group Hank Dogs.

The last two tracks are really the highlights - "Spirit of Autumn Past Part 2" and "The Gap is Wide" are more creatively structured and have much greater impact. They develop well and build up to climaxes that remain on the introspective side. The finale includes some fine piping.

All in all, the album is a bit too uneven to warrant 4 stars, but possesses a beauty that mostly recalls that most evocative of seasons, and hence is still a good album if not the best place to start your exploration of this very English band.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars This has been my first touch of Mostly autumn. A radio played "The gap is too wide" and I had the impression of being listening to something that I already knew. Only when the electric guitar started crying in the long instrumental coda of that song, I realized that I was listening to something new. This is the good and the bad of this album.

It starts with few notes from the closing track of their first album (The last bright light will then start with the last notes of "the gap is too wide") that fade into "Winter Mountain". This is my less preferred song. The mood is early 70s and makes me think to the Renaissance debut. However I have to admit that I sometimes skip this track.

"This great blue pearl" is a slow ballad introduced by a "hammond like" organ. Again close to early Renaissance. The final guitar riff is in David Gilmour's style. Bryan Josh is probably the most skilled follower of Sir David. Not a masterpiece but a nice song.

"Pieces of Love" is very Floydian. The instrumental intro comes from the Meddle period, but it's the first song in this album on which the vocal skill of Heather Findlay can be appreciated. She sings on an acoustic guitar base. The fiddle alternates with the voice.

"Please" is a sad song about love's end, solitude and stuff like this. A Korg X-5 default sound and Bryan's voice start the song that after about two minutes fortunately arrives to the chorus. Well, I don't like the quite trivial lyrics (take me with you, don't leave me alone). However, after the chorus and echoed guitar and the fiddle make a nice break to the second chorus. a 2.5 stars song.

"Evergreen" is where the CD starts to pay back. This is a fantastic song introduced harped guitar and keyboars, then Heather comes with her crystal voice, sustained by Angela's backing. When she stops singing the rhythm guitar and keyboard come and when the second chorus arrives we are in the middle of an example of how a progressive song has to be. A sudden change of tonality, a short guitar riff and back to the chorus. It's a crescendo until it stops and seems to restart from the beginning, but it's only to introduce a great guitar solo that turns into rock when drums double the tempo. A masterpiece of progressive rock.

"Styhead Tarn" is just a bridge to the following track. A bit of Renaissance before "Shindig". This is folky. This album has less celtic moments respect to their debut. It's likely the reason of Bob Faulds' leaving. "Blakey Ridge" is strictly connected to Shindig. We can say that those three tracks can be considered together. This one reminds to early Caravan even if the shadow of Sir David is still present.

"Underneath the Ice" is another typical Mostly Autumn song. It's exactly 3 stars. Good but non-essential.

The same applies to "Thorugh the window". This is a folk song unfortunately sung by Bryan, even if his voice is not that bad. Only it can't be compared to Heather's.

"The spirit of Autumn Past Part 1" is an instrumental introduction to another 3-tracks medley, in the sense that this, its second part and "The gap is too wide" must be listened together in sequence. It's a typical Pink Floyd like introduction. "Signs of Life" and "Cluster One" as reference. "The Spirit of Autumn Past Part 2" is another topic moment of this album. The chorus seems to come from the flower power age, the melody is simple but it's highly enjoyable. I really love this song. Also the changes of tonality, all in the coda, are well orchestrated and the final guitar and keyboard riff is very nice. a 4 star song. When it stops and turns back into the water sounds that opened the part 1, we are ready for the top moment of the album:

"The gap is too wide" starts folky. Acoustic guitar, violin, keyboard's backfilling and Heather's voice. It could be a Clannad song of the 80s (Macalla and Sirius period). Between the second and the third stanza, a radio speaker says something about long life, God, and sunshine. Then, when Heather finishes singing, keyboard and violin lead the track to a change of tonality on which the acoustic guitar introduces the last 6 fantastic minutes of the album. 4 simple chords for one of the most intense instrumental progressive pieces of the last 10 years. When the acoustic guitar turns into rhythm, it's replaced by the electric in the same harping. A little crescendo and the keyboard's "OOOH sound" offer the start to the impressive Josh's solo. His guitar dramatically cries. Your stereo volume must be very high, here. A masterpiece of prog-folk. It's completed by Angela's (I assume) pipes that turn it back into folk and back to the water gimmicks at the end. it's a 4.5 stars album. It's not 5 because of some weak moments, but evergreen and the gap is too wide would have been a 5 stars single.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is MOSTLY AUTUMN's second album released in 1999. The Prog-Folk and Celtic side of them really stands out on this album, and they even have IONA's Troy Donockley guesting on one track with his Uilleann Pipes.

"Winter Mountains" opens with the wind blowing as drums come in and build. A full sound a minute in. Dual vocals follow. A calm after 3 minutes but it's brief although quite effective because when it kicks back in it sounds great. Excellent opening track. "This Great Blue Pearl" features some organ early then it settles right down with dual vocals. Contrasts continue. It's an okay tune. "Pieces Of Love" is pastoral early as reserved female vocals join in. Violin after 2 1/ 2 minutes. "Please" opens with synths and reserved male vocals. Drums and a fuller sound 1 1/2 minutes in as it turns into a pretty good song. "Evergreen" is also pastoral to start this time with reserved female vocals. It's fuller before 2 1/2 minutes. A soaring guitar solo before 4 1/2 minutes and also after 6 minutes. He lights it up a minute later.

"Styhead Tam" opens with drums and it gradually gets fuller. "Shindig" is just that, it sounds like a jig. Some flute on this one. "Blakey Ridge / When The Waters Meet" still sounds like a jig until the second section comes in. "Underneath The Ice" is mellow with acoustic guitar and dual vocals. It's fuller after 2 minutes though. "Through The Windows" features violin, strummed guitar and reserved vocals. Kind of Folky. "The Spirit Of Autumn Past (Part I)" has these sparse keyboards then guitar. A reflective tune. "Spirit Of Autumn Past (Part II)" is my favourite track on here. Reserved male vocals as the beat and sound builds. It kicks in at 1 1/2 minutes and contrasts continue. Violin before 4 minutes and guitar late. "The Gap Is Too Wide" is another good one that sounds quite epic at times. Troy offers up his Pipe solo here late.

An enjoyable album that is as I mentioned earlier more on the Folk side of things.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Mostly (but not wholly) autumn

After a rather disjointed and also quite derivative debut album, Mostly Autumn followed it up shortly afterwards with the much stronger The Spirit Of Autumn Past which is my favourite album by the band. While it still suffers from some of the same shortcomings as the debut album, this second studio effort constitutes a large improvement over the first one in all respects. The band draws on a slightly wider set of influences this time and it is thankfully no longer exclusively Pink Floyd and traditional Folk Rock that inspires the band. Still, Mostly Autumn's influences are primarily Proto-Prog and Prog Related bands most of which had already reached a wide (or even mainstream Rock) audience already by the end of the 1960's. I'm thinking primarily of bands such as Fairport Convention, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull and, most notably, the aforementioned Pink Floyd (and yes, I do think that the early albums by the latter two bands are Proto-Prog or Prog Related at best).

As such, Mostly Autumn presents us with an appealing mixture of Psychedelic Rock, Folk Rock and Hard Rock, all strongly rooted in the mentality of the late 60's and early 70's, with sprinklings of pure traditional Celtic music. Is this therefore to be called Retro-Prog? It is retro, but in my view there is not much Prog to be found in this band. Brian Josh and co. seem to be almost wholly oblivious of the sheer existence of most of the genuinely progressive bands and subgenres of our beloved archives (Symphonic, Eclectic, Neo- Prog, etc.). Is a simple mixture of different types of music in itself enough to make something progressive? Well, I would say that it depends very much on how the mixture is done exactly. In my opinion, Mostly Autumn is a band that very seldom crosses the border from Prog Related to something truly progressive, but there are a couple of such moments on this album.

The album opens with my favourite Mostly Autumn song, Winter Mountain. This rocking tune with Jethro Tull-like flute is an apt album opener. It has more punch than most songs by the band overall and easily outshines anything from the debut in my opinion. It also features a very good end-section with nice keyboard and guitar work over a surprisingly symphonic backdrop. Another highlight of the album is for me the beautiful, eight-minute Evergreen. It reminds a bit of Barclay James Harvest in style and is very pleasant indeed. Like on the debut, there are also some more folky tunes in the middle of the album. Shindig and Blakey Ridge/When The Waters Meet are danceable jigs with Rock drums in the best Fairport Convention tradition and these are vast improvements over the similar songs found on For All We Shared and are actually highly enjoyable. The latter flows straight into Underneath The Ice which is very appealing. The two part title track is another good one that has become a live favourite.

The rest of the album is less appealing, but there is not one song that I find really terrible or annoying this time. This Great Blue Pearl is a Pop tune with an exceedingly catchy chorus and the expected Pink Floyd-ish harmonies, but as such it is actually one of the better songs of this type by the band with some tasteful organ and a good guitar solo at the end - quite predictable, but rather pleasant nonetheless. On the acoustic ballad Pieces Of Love, heather Findlay gets to shine on her own for the first time of this album and she has a fine voice indeed. Please is a rather Poppy mid-tempo number that sounds quite anonymous and becomes dull long before its six minutes are up. The 11 minute closer The Gap Is Too Wide also feels like it has been stretched out over and above what its actual contents warrant, but it is still a pretty good song with some very nice vocals once again.

Overall, The Spirit Of Autumn Past is a nice album that still sprawls a bit in various directions but manages to hold the different elements together much better than on the debut.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Catch The Spirit.

Mostly Autumn are a band I have been drawn to over the years after seeing them play on a compilation DVD. I was immediately transfixed by the power of the music, the performance of guitarist Josh Bryan and especially the wonderful vocal talents of Heather Findlay. The atmosphere is a mixture of Celtic ambience and Folk meets a rocked up optimistic Pink Floyd style, along with shades of Fairport Convention, Renaissance, Led Zeppelin, and Jethro Tull, due to an emphasis on flute by Angela Goldthorpe. The style is definitely similar to Pink Floyd especially with the keyboard treatment and Bryan's low toned vocals. The second album for the group is one of their most celebrated containing some of their most famous works that are still played live today. On this album, "The Spirit Of Autumn Past", Iain Jennings is present on keyboards, and the mighty Hammond; Bob Faulds lends a hand on violins, and 5 string Zeta violin; Liam Davison is on 6 & 12 string acoustic, electric & slide guitar; Stuart Carver is on bass; and Rob McNeil on drums.

Mostly Autumn really branch out into some Psychedelic Rock on this album and even explore the Celtic sound that they became known for. The opener is the stunning 'Winter Mountain' guided by Goldthorpe's outstanding flute and a hard driving rock sound with a symphonic layer beneath. It has a great riff and some sizzling keyboard soloing; an absolute master class performance.

'This Great Blue Pearl' has a crunching Hammond driving it and some moderate tempo percussion and bass. Findlay and Bryan harmonise well together.

'Pieces of Love' is a work of balladic beauty with Findlay helming the ship, and acoustics, flute and keys laying a foundation of ambient textures. The lyrics are poetic and deep centred in the pain of love; "Pieces of love, Haunting like love, Let the love go wandering away in your mind, Don't question the pain, Breathing like pain, Let the love go wandering away in your mind." It makes a nice break from the intricacies of previous tracks, and features a melancholy violin. The acoustic ballad features Findlay's glistening tones taking centre stage and some delicate acoustic vibrations. The sensuous keyboards and floating flute complete the soundscape of gentle beauty and this is perhaps the band at their most exquisite.

'Please' ventures into pop territory but is a nice balanced track with some spellbinding keyboard passages, especially towards the end.

A quintessential Mostly Autumn track is found on this album that all fans love to hear in the live arena, and of course I speak of none other than 'Evergreen'. Findlay sings with haunting beauty and calm; easily one of most accomplished performances. The melody and tranquil atmosphere is a highlight of the band's extensive repertoire.

'Styhead Tarn' is a bit of a filler enhanced by a pounding drum signature, and it is followed by 2 other mediocre pieces. 'Shindig', a violin abomina? domination is one of those airy fairy things that I could live without. It is shadowed by 'Blakey Ridge/When The Waters Meet', yet another virtual hoedown Folk thing getting jiggy with it.

After these three bland moments, 'Underneath The Ice' seamlessy flows on with acoustic flourishes and a Pink Floydish vibe that has a charm and appeals to my senses. 'Through The Windows' is next and is a bit too concentric on Bryan's dry vocals and violin competing with acoustic for my tastes. I think Bryan improved over time, especially on more recent efforts but this was rather like a rather flavourless folk song.

'The Spirit of Autumn Past' is broken needlessly into 2 parts, but would have worked better as a 9 minute work. It begins with walking on gravel sounds and a wistful piano. It is an organic instrumental very much in the vein of Pink Floyd's quieter moments. Part 2 is the more popular segment where the vocals and melody lock in. Bryan's vocals are like David Gilmour, which is how the majority of his low husky vocals will sound on the next few releases. The melody is infectious and easy to hook into. The music builds with a rhythmic guitar and strong beat. The chorus becomes majestic and then it breaks into minimalist sections before returning to a more uplifting instrumental, backed by violins and dense keyboards.

The 11 and a half minute mini epic 'The Gap Is Too Wide' is a tour de force of atmospherics and symphonic instrumentation. This appears in many live concerts as it gives the band a chance to explore some improvised soloing and unusual musical choices with guest musicians Troy Donockley on Uilleann pipes; The Christchurch Singers including the family and close friends of Susan Jennings; and Marissa Claughn on cello. Findlay's vocals are as soft as a butterfly's wings and Bryan's lengthy lead work soars into the stratosphere; a trademark of subsequent albums. The angelic choirs and mellotrons are blissful and heavenly. This is undoubtedly a masterpiece track cementing the virtuoso skills of the musicians. The Uilleann pipes at the end are a perfect way to close the album, augmented by the sounds of lapping water.

The followup to "For All We Shared" released the same year, "The Spirit Of Autumn Past" is a step in the right direction for the band and one of their most revered albums along with 2001's "The Last Bright Light", and 2003's "Passengers". It is a pleasant journey worth embarking on for a slice of very relaxing ambience and just the right amount of hard rocking guitar; one of the best releases from Mostly Autumn from which the catchphrase originated, so synonymous with their music; "Catch The Spirit".

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Before the second Mostly Autumn release Kev Gibbons and drummer Allan Scott left the band, thus Angela Goldthorpe was promoted to a full time member on flutes and whistles, while the position behind the drum kit was filled by Rob McNeil.The album was named ''The Spirit of autumn past'' and for the first time Iona's Troy Donockley helped the band, blowing the Uilleann pipes on the last, epic track of the album.

Musically there are no significant differences with the debut album of this Celtic Folk-inspired group, maybe the electric guitars are upgraded in several tracks in a heavier and more pronounced sound, but generally the album comes as a mix of 70's-inspired Progressive Rock with Celtic tunes surrounding the arrangements.A few tracks though reveal this Anglo-Neo Prog attitude with the strong mid-70's GENESIS vibe, based on elaborate arrangements, careful melodies and clean vocals.Mostly Autumn appear to be very good in this particular style, but their more Folk-tinged material is what separates them from the mass of emerging Prog bands of the time.Their lust for sensitive yet grandiose textures and the ability to combine Celtic tradition with electric soundscapes is more than convincing.Impressive musicianship, which sounds like if PALLAS collaborated with MIKE OLDFIELD, featuring a cast of male and female singers.The songs are rewarding, full of striking melodies, memorable solos, atmospheric instrumentals, while the addition of a few heavier lines is also welcome.The listener can meet the excellence of crying violins, dreamy flutes and nostalgic pipes next to the echoes created by the soaring electric guitars and the orchestral keyboards, resulting yet another great album by this talented British combo.

This album holds all the principles of the Progressive Rock genre, adding the appropriate Folk content in measured doses, so the result is usually beautiful, emotional and always intricate.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Review by The Crow
2 stars Second full length from the British prog-folk act Mostly Autumn!

This album is another good mixture between melancholic English prog rock, in the vein of Big Big Train and similar bands, with tons of Irish folk elements which reminds me to the first years of Mike Oldfield.

The music is overall good and the songwriting is competent despite some boring and repetitive moments. What's my problem with this album, then? I find Josh's singing just bad. Heather Findlay makes a good work in the album, but when he sings (and he sings a lot) the quality drops dramatically, making songs which could have been great just average, like in Through the Windows and The Spirit of Autumn Past.

And that's a pity, because this inability from Josh to sing his own songs spoils what could have been an otherwise good album.

Best Tracks: Winter Mountain (powerful and funny opener), Evergreen (the best instrumental work of the album) and The Gap is Too Wide (I especially like the folk elements in this one)

Conclusion: The Spirit of Autumn Past is not a bad album, but it contains too much minutes of plain bad singing from Bryan Josh, making enjoying this album very difficult to me. I just don't want to push play anymore with this one. Sorry guys!

Nevertheless, if you liked the band's debut, this album is in my opinion a bit superior in quality and maybe you should check it out. If you can bear the vocals!

My rating: **

Review by Warthur
3 stars Mostly Autumn's second album largely follows the lead of the first, with perhaps somewhat tighter songwriting and the departure of Kev Gibbons giving Angela Goldthorpe a chance to step up from guest musician to full band member, with her flute and whistle contributions as significant to the texture as Heather Findlay's vocals (which also seem to be called on a bit more than on the debut). Musically speaking, we're still dealing with a blend of neo-prog melodicism, folk influences and instrumentation, and a touch of Pink Floyd, though the Floyd angle is perhaps less overtly leaned on this time around as Mostly Autumn seem somewhat confident in being their own band with their own sound and leave their origins as a Floyd tribute act behind them.

Some of the earlier songs, more straightforward songs take a bit of getting used to, but closing epic The Gap Is Too Wide is lovely. By and large, I'd say that the album is more or less on the same standard as the debut, with perhaps a touch more polish and confidence.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 529

"The Spirit Of Autumn Past" is the second studio album of Mostly Autumn and, like their debut "For All We Shared", it was also released in 1999. It's their only album to feature drummer Rob McNeil and their last album to feature violinist Bob Faulds and bassist Stuart Carver. It was also the first Mostly Autumn's album to feature multi- instrumentalist Troy Donockley as a guest musician, what would become common because he has after guested on many of their albums since. By the other hand, it was the first album of the band to feature Angela Goldthorpe as a full member of the group.

So, the line up on "The Spirit Of Autumn Past" is Bryan Josh (lead and backing vocals, lead, rhythm, acoustic and 12 string guitars and E-Bow), Heather Findlay (lead and backing vocals, acoustic and 12 string guitars, bodhran and tambourine), Iain Jennings (backing vocals, Hammond organ and keyboards), Liam Davison (backing vocals, rhythm, acoustic, slide and 12 string guitars), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, high and low whistles), Bob Faulds (violins and 5 string zeta violin), Stuart Carver (bass guitar) and Rob McNeil (drums). "The Spirit Of Autumn Past" has also the participation of Troy Donockley (Uilleann pipes) and Marissa Claughan (cello), as guest musicians.

"The Spirit Of Autumn Past" has thirteen tracks. The first track "Winter Mountain" written by B. Josh and R. Josh is a great and stunning opener for the album. This is a great driving hard rock song with a symphonic touch, an excellent riff and great guitar and keyboard works. The second track "This Great Blue Pearl" written by Josh is a nice and beautiful song with catchy chorus and Pink Floyd harmonies. It's a very slow ballad introduced by Hammond organ and with a nice guitar riff that features a superb guitar solo in Gilmour's vein. The third track "Pieces Of Love" written by Josh is a mellow ballad that shows the other face of the band. Fortunately, here we can hear the beautiful voice of Heather Findlay, which isn't the case on many times during the entire album. The fourth track "Please" written by Josh, Findlay and Jennings is another great song. It's a song with some powerful vocal harmonies, a great guitar work and a nice keyboard performance too. The fifth track "Evergreen" written by Josh and Findlay is one of the lengthiest songs on the album, and is one of the highlights of it too. It has all the ingredients of a true Mostly Autumn's track, strong and beautiful vocal harmonies, a slightly rockier tempo, the guitar style of David Gilmour and above all the unmistakable beautiful voice of Heather Findlay. The sixth track "Styhead Tarn" written by Josh is a song very different from the rest of the album. Despite being a nice and pleasant song to hear, it's a weaker song compared to the others songs, so far. The seventh track "Shindig" written by Faulds is the first true folk track on the album and represents a nice, rare and good musical moment on it. The absence of songs like this was possibly the main reason why Bob Faulds leave the band. The eighth track "Blakey Ridge/When Waters Meet" written by Josh and Faulds, despite be another good and nice song, represents the third consecutive less good song on the album. It's a very short instrumental track with nothing special to note. The ninth track "Underneath The Ice (Troubled Dreams)" written by Josh is another song with a strong appeal to David Gilmour's fans. Once more and despite be another good song it became a little bit repetitive and boring too. The tenth track "Through The Window" written by Josh is a song in the same vein of the previous song and is especially centred on Bryan's voice and acoustic guitar. The eleventh and twelfth tracks are the title track song "The Spirit Of The Autumn Past ? Part 1 and Part 2" written by Josh, Findlay and Jennings. It's the return to the high quality level of the most of the album. They're about nine minutes long and they must be heard together. This is the highlight of the album, a track with a wonderful vocal harmony and chorus, which represents one of the best pieces ever made by Mostly Autumn. The thirteenth and last track "The Gap Is Too Wide" written by Jennings is another brilliant piece of music. The beautiful voice of Heather and the fantastic guitar performance of Josh are absolutely brilliant and deserve be heard properly. "The Spirit Of The Autumn Past" and "The Gap Is Too Wide" are two brilliant endings to the album.

Conclusion: "The Spirit Of Autumn Past" represents another great and surprising album of Mostly Autumn. It was made in the same vein of their previous debut album "For All We Shared". Sincerely, I'm not sure which of the two albums I like most. In my humble opinion, on "For All We Shared" the music is purest and simplest and the final result was a very cohesive album despite the different musical influences on it. On "The Spirit Of The Autumn Past" the music is more mature and more complex, and despite being musically more compact, it's a less cohesive album because some lower quality of some of its tracks. The best tracks on the album are undoubtedly "Winter Mountain", "Please", "Evergreen" and especially "The Spirit Of Autumn Past" and "The Gap Is Too Wide". Anyway, I really think that "The Spirit Of Autumn Past" and "For All We Shared" must be listen together as a complement of each other as I like to do.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

3 stars This is a band that is able to encompass numerous influences into their music and this album certainly doesn't disappoint. They are classed as prog folk, which is correct, but we must also consider the Celtic influences, the Pink Floyd influences, the rockier influences. The songs on this album ... (read more)

Report this review (#2220362) | Posted by DominicS | Wednesday, June 12, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The second album by MA reveals best the quality the band has within. Although the opening track is in no way one of their stronger songs this collection of songs will appeal to anyone who likes Pink Floyd mixed with traditional Celtic music blended with some classical spheres. These can be hea ... (read more)

Report this review (#308541) | Posted by Theo Verstrael | Saturday, November 6, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "The Spirit of Autumn Past", Mostly Autumn's second album, is an excellent piece of music that still sounds good today, some 8 years after its release. Compared with their sound of today, this album still contains more of the folk-rock leanings, especially on the fiddle-driven "Shindig", that we ... (read more)

Report this review (#160237) | Posted by alextorres2 | Wednesday, January 30, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If it weren't for Brian Josh's lack of vocal ability, I would have to say that Mostly Autumn is one of the greatest and most musically innovative groups that I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. Thier integration of the so many different and unusual insruments(all played very well by t ... (read more)

Report this review (#68396) | Posted by fishingfool42 | Sunday, February 5, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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