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THIEVES' KITCHEN

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Thieves' Kitchen biography
THIEVES' KITCHEN is a modern British line-up that is special because they could get away from the neo progressive influences that his mentor had (with a lot of talent), developed in GREY LADY DOWN. The sound has neo influences put also with strong and fully orchestrated arrangements. The musicianship is complicated but very much in the band spirit. This is a very good blend of traditional prog and newer prog. Recorded in 1999, "Head" sees in "Argot" an excellent second part.

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ArgotArgot
Thieves' Kitchen Records 2007
Audio CD$17.99
$3.98 (used)
Water RoadWater Road
Import
Thieves' Kitchen Records 2008
Audio CD$17.98
$13.99 (used)
HeadHead
Thieves' Kitchen Records 2007
Audio CD$17.99
$11.99 (used)
ShibbolethShibboleth
Thieves' Kitchen Records 2007
Audio CD$17.78
$9.91 (used)
Argot by Thieves' Kitchen (2007-07-17)Argot by Thieves' Kitchen (2007-07-17)
Thieves' Kitchen Records
Audio CD$101.68
Head by Thieves' Kitchen (2007-07-17)Head by Thieves' Kitchen (2007-07-17)
Thieves' Kitchen Records
Audio CD$68.99
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THIEVES' KITCHEN discography


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THIEVES' KITCHEN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.27 | 33 ratings
Head
2000
3.43 | 47 ratings
Argot
2001
3.42 | 45 ratings
Shibboleth
2003
3.68 | 71 ratings
The Water Road
2008
3.82 | 107 ratings
One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
2013
4.01 | 96 ratings
The Clockwork Universe
2015

THIEVES' KITCHEN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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THIEVES' KITCHEN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

THIEVES' KITCHEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 One For Sorrow, Two For Joy by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.82 | 107 ratings

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One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I actually wanted to get "The Water Road". It was in my Amazon stand by cart for nearly two years. Then "One for Sorrow, Two for Joy" came out and they both sat in my cart. Finally I decided to get "The Water Road" and it was gone, no longer available except as an expensive import. So I quickly snatched up this album.

I first heard about Thieves' Kitchen back in 2012 when I was seeking out new prog bands and stumbled across them on iTunes. At the time I liked only some songs but not enough to want to buy an album. Their mention in the book "Citizens of Hope and Glory: The Story of Progressive Rock" by Stephen Lambe made me change my mind. But "One for Sorrow" seems not like the best place to start with this band.

After a brief child's rhyme, the music begins and sounds promising enough. There's the usual electric guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. It's when the vocals come in that things start to go the opposite direction from which I'd hoped. Now it's not that Amy Darby is a bad singer. At first I thought she was good but unremarkable. However, listening more carefully I have come to think that the vocals lines for this song were just not meant for most singers. She has to sing low and throw in an occasional higher note and hold these low notes. It feels more like someone trying to sing over a prog instrumental. The next song doesn't fair any better and here I feel the lyrics sound as forced as the singing: "The cosmos in its scale / Like Isis unveiled / To the all-seeing eye". There's a pleasant bit of flute followed by some nice piano, the only redeeming virtues of this song for me.

"A Fool's Journey" is a surprise because of the heavy riff. As I had Black Sabbath's "13" in my iPhone music library at the time I first heard this song, I was for a moment puzzled as to why Black Sabbath suddenly got cued up. Yet despite the heavy riff, the production of this album is not like a metal one, and the song can no longer be confused with the metal legends. It's a powerful track musically and in some ways a good change at least as far as the singing goes. But in the end I feel something was missing to make it a successful hit with me.

"Germander Speedwell" is the longest track and it's the instrumental parts that save it as the vocal tracks again follow a similar stretched out and almost tiresome style. I don't think even Janis Joplin could have made these vocal lines work.

It's not until "The Weaver", a short acoustic folk piece, that at last Darby seems to have been able to capture her voice in the song. For that matter, it's only here where I first find myself really enjoying listening to the music. Prior to this, a lot if not most of it, sounds like a colour-by-numbers attempt to create a modern prog feeling but even though the bass and drums are working, they don't seem to manage anything inspiring. At times pretty good; at other times rather generic.

The final track is also a longer one, just over 12 minutes, and it's here at last that I feel the band found its inspiration. The music has energy and purposefulness. The band seem to know what they are doing and why at last and there's feeling in the playing. It's too bad that a couple of more songs on this album didn't have that energy.

I'm afraid that I can't get excited about this album. I've listened to it a few times and added songs to mixed playlists hoping to find something outstanding but I can't. I've read other reviews that say "One for Sorrow, Two for Joy" is a weaker album in TK's discography, so it seems I'm not the only one to feel something is lacking. It's not a huge disappointment but worthy only of a flat three stars and nothing more.

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 The Clockwork Universe by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.01 | 96 ratings

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The Clockwork Universe
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team

5 stars Thieves' Kitchen, a trio of Phil Mercy, Amy Darby, and Thomas Johanson (ex-Anglagard), with adjunct members Anna Holmgren (Anglagard), Johan Brand (Anglagard) and Paul Mallyon (ex-Sanguine Hum), have created a collection of meticulously crafted and expertly performed songs in the vein of the most complex Canterbury scene and symphonic Yes demanding the highest degrees of difficulty from its musicians. Vocalist Amy Darby's stylings are similar to the palette-clearing effects of a superlative red wine--the backbone upon which each song rests, despite the fact that it is a "lead" instrument. She could be singing about chainsaw massacres but it would feel like walks on the soft floor of a pine forest to me.

1. "The Library Song" (6:47) is a jazzy exploration held strong and fast by Amy's solid vocal--which is oddly mirrored by the lead guitar. Great keyboard play from Thomas Johanson throughout but Paul Mallyon's drumming and Johan Brand's bass play are stellar! (9/10)

2. "Railway Time" (7:38) begins with quite a "smokey lounge" bluesy keyboard and guitar duet before evolving into a bass-anchored expose for Amy's most diverse and adventurous vocal of the album (less sustained notes, more scatting around the scales). Nice shift away from the blues foundation after the mid-song flute solo. The most accessible song I've ever heard from TK and my favorite melody of theirs. (10/10)

3. "Astrolabe" (3:17) is a slow duet that puts the wonderful sympathy of guitarist and founding band member Phil Mercy and pianist Thomas Johnson on full display. (9/10)

4. "Prodigy" (9:07) is full-scale prog song construction on display (a la 1970s YES) with the absolute highest caliber musicianship possible. Classic! (10/10)

5. "The Scientist's Wife" (19:58) An obvious attempt at the more sophisticated Canterbury sound, this is my least favorite song on the album--and it's still an 8 out of 10! The five-minute opening instrumental section is quite impressive for the excellent play of its interwoven parts--not unlike a KING CRIMSON "Discipline" display--but it then mysteriously disappears in order to give way to a soft acoustic guitar foundation behind Amy's storytelling. A pleasant enough section blessed with Amy's crystalline vocal warmth, but then, though the song builds layers around and with Amy's story line, the song never seems to take off and fly--and feels much the homogenous single movement of what is promised to be a Yes symphony. Impeccable performances on what feels like an under-developed song. A lot of unrealized potential. (8/10)

6. "Orrery" (4:41) is another slowed down, scaled down song of mostly gentle piano play, though Thomas's work is beautifully embellished by ethereal flutes, intermittent guitar and bass flourishes and Mellotron, no drums. On a par with Francesco Zago's EMPTY DAYS work of 2013. (9/10)

Stellar musicianship, remarkable sound engineering (instrumental clarity), and quite beautifully sophisticated compositions that impress and engage. Like Anglagard albums, this one has taken several listens for the songs to start to weave their way into my psyche, into my heart. So, I recommend that you give this one some time. If you do, you'll be very, very thankful. An incredibly well-polished masterpiece from a dedicated and deserving group of musicians. Definitely a Top 20 Album of 2015!

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 The Clockwork Universe by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.01 | 96 ratings

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The Clockwork Universe
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by cirrusbay

5 stars Wow! Okay, I will try to limit my gushing here. All gushing does is tell people the reviewer really likes the album, which doesn't mean anyone else will. So I'll try to comment on specifics of the music and keep emotion out of it. Even though this album is really, really good. For the sake of references, musically, the 6th Thieves' Kitchen album reminds me a little of 'Hatfield & The North'. Much more so than previous releases. The composition, and even the sound of the keyboards remind me of Dave Stewart. The beautiful first track, 'The Library Song' opens with piano chords that call to mind the intro to 'Mumps', from 'The Rotters' Club'. The continual change of complex chords is pure ear candy to these ears, and when Amy Darby's voice arrives, it's like chocolate mousse. Amy has never sounded sweeter, with beautiful vibrato that holds notes over changing chords and superb melodies for her to sing her meaningful and compelling lyrics with obvious passion. When this track ended I was left with the impression that this was the finest piece of music in the entire TK catalogue. But it didn't stop there. 'Railway Time' continued this quality with a 'chorus', I'll call it, that echoed in my mind after the album was over, still giving me chills. Each track, in fact, is brilliantly crafted past the point of 98% of today's music, to a place where it becomes fine art. I would be amiss not to mention the album's opus, 'The Scientist's Wife'. The uber-tight instrumental climax to this 20-minute epic really has to be heard to fully appreciate. As usual, Thieves' Kitchen's musicianship is top-notch here. Phil Mercy's fluid crescendos, especially in the aforementioned climax display a rare talent that is undeniable. But again, where Phil and Thomas Johnson have really cranked things up a notch or three, is in the composition, making this, in this reviewers opinion, their strongest album to date without question. I remember when Dave Stewart wrote music like this.

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 Argot by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.43 | 47 ratings

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Argot
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Immediately after the release of ''Head'' Thieve's Kitchen were about to compose new material for a second album.Midway through this decision though Paul Beecham was somewhat forced to quit due to family commitments.The band welcome new bassist Andy Bonham, who came up with the idea of providing some fretless bass lines into the sound.Recordings started in January 2001, Beecham was not totally absent, adding some woodwind lines into the material, and two months later ''Argot'' was set for release.As with the first album, this one was independently launched by the band.

A longer album but a reduced number of tracks meant that Thieve's Kitchen were quite ambitious to deliver epic compositions all the way through, none of the four cuts clocked at less than 13 minutes!The music is on par with the first album, basically an affair between Neo/Symphonic Prog and different echoes coming from Jazz and even Canterbury Fusion.They did this though by offering a strong amount of powerful keyboards, including synths, organ and Mellotron, often in duplicate deliveries, and some really serious guitar work by Mercy, which draws influences from both the classic Prog heroes (STEVE HOWE, STEVE HACKETT) and jazzier executors (ALAN HOLDSWORTH, TONY SPADA).The arrangements are trully complex and often chaotic with endless time signatures, tempo variations and a huge atmospheric variety, passing from Classic 70's Prog and Fusion to modern Neo Prog with comfort.They remind me a bit of MR. SIRIUS, although in a rather more complex approach, swirling around symphonic and light jazzy elements, but prooving to be fairly consistent throughout the whole album.First and last track are the best in my opinion, very good Sympho Prog with Fusion and Canterbury orientations and loads of vintage keyboards, the other two pieces are more into Neo/Symphonic Prog with some dreamy climates, but also captivating and demanding instrumental exercises.

File next to Germans ARGOS and compatriots THE TANGENT.Simon Boys' voice maybe leads to more Neo-styled paths, but the music is far more than this, featuring some tremendous jazzy torturing among the standard symphonic echoes.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 The Water Road by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.68 | 71 ratings

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The Water Road
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars I was actually quite surprise that finally Thieve's Kitchen has transformed their music into something truly a progressive rock music after I was quite disappointed with their previous album "argot" and I did not give high rating on it. This one is really different as the music, composition-wise, is quite mature even though it moves quite slow in tempo. But it does not matter at all as prog music not necessary a dynamic one or energetic. You might not be patient listening to for example the opening track The Long Fianchetto (21:01) as it has a slow movement at the start> But in my case I really love the piano solo at the beginning of the track which sends a strong message about the classical nuances of the music. But actually I was wrong thinking like this as when the guitar enters the scene it indicates me another style of music that is different with what I previously expected. I enjoy the guitar work, really. The female vocal by Amy Darby makes the song fulfills its role nicely throughout the long duration.

On thing unique about this album is that the fact that I am not aware how changes have happened from one track to another as the second and third track happen naturally as they are part of the already very long opening track. So basically in a total of 34 minutes I enjoy the flow of the music in its entirety without any intention to stop it at all.

I finally only realized that I reach track four Om Tare (7:44) as musically and energy-wise it's totally different from the previous three tracks. This one is really a killer as it moves in relatively fast tempo in the vein of Finneus Gauge music. You might put this fourth track as your best track as it has very strong in composition and it's dynamic and energetic and it has many tempo changes. You won't believe this one is featured in this album by Thieve's Kitchen. It then moves beautifully to the fifth track Tacenda for You (9:34) through nice female vocal and wonderful combined work of keyboard / mellotron and guitar with some flutework as well. Oh this is beautiful really!

As for lineup, I knew the man behind this band: Mark Robotham from his tenure in neo prog band called as Grey Lady Down, as well as Anglagard's Thomas Johnson who plays keyboards with mellotron-like sounds throughout the album.

To me this is an excellent prog music that blends nicely many elements like folks, symphonic prog as well as jazz-rock fusion. It's basically a blend of many kinds of music and overall it's really an excellent result. I highly recommend this prog album. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 One For Sorrow, Two For Joy by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.82 | 107 ratings

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One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by kurtrongey

5 stars Over two months of listening to "One for Sorrow, Two for Joy," I've been transfixed by its beauty. What an emotionally satisfying listen. This album is another affirmation of the welcome revival of outstanding music from the UK (see also Sanguine Hum and Big Big Train). Phil Mercy's writing has continued to develop depth and sophistication. The stately (but not lugubrious) pace the album takes for much of its length makes it easy to settle into for an uninterrupted listen.

If I were to describe the music, I would say it takes the harmonic approach of the first two National Health albums and folds it into a verdant English pastoral mood. The textures are usually "lush" but never thick and congested, always supporting and never overwhelming Amy Darby's beautiful singing. I can't help comparing her to Amanda Parsons in the climax of "Of Sparks and Spires." There's plenty of shifting terrain for the rhythmic section (half of Sanguine Hum's "Diving Bell" configuration), but never in a tricky way, always following the contours and shapes of the melody and drama. The melodies stick with me and float pleasingly throughtout my mind long after a listen. It's lovingly recorded with a wonderful sense of texture and naturalness and no hint of producer-itis.

If you have a taste for sophisticated symphonic prog with that unmistakable British thing about it, you really owe it to yourself to have this album.

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 The Water Road by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.68 | 71 ratings

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The Water Road
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars An interesting thing about the album when checking out the reviews on PA, is that among the Collaborators alone, this has been ranked at everything from 1* to all 5. This was their fourth album, released in 2008, but I have only just come across it. Having enjoyed their most recent album so much, I knew that this one had to be worth investigating and since receiving it have played it a great deal. I fully understand why there has been such a variance in the marks awarded to this album as musically it is incredibly diverse, with the music sometimes in perfect harmony with Amy, and at others she is almost at odds, while for many passages she is absent as both Phil (guitars) and Thomas (keys) are more than happy being right at the forefront of proceedings, driving the music onwards.

Ah, the music. Both Thomas and guest Anna Holmgren are from Anglagard, and there is plenty of angular Swedish sounding prog on this album, with solid keyboards and lifting flute. But, there are also times when these guys remind you that they are very much a rock band with driving guitars and pacy runs. This was Mark Robotham's final album with the band, and when I think back to the time when he played me a pre-release tape of GLD's debut album, his drumming has changed beyond all recognition as he is fully aware of the need for space and what he doesn't play is as important within the overall sound and context as what he does play.

Opening song "The Long Fiachetto" clocks in at more than 21 minutes and is a real statement of intent, but for me the highlight is the fourth song, "Om Tare". It commences with a multi-tracked chant, but after the initial six seconds the guys burst forth with a complex burst of jazz rock that took me back to my teenage years. Somehow, towards the end of the Seventies I ended up with a copy of Colosseum II's 1977 album 'War Dance' in my collection. It was an album that I often listened to, wondering in the interplay between rhythm section of Jon Hiseman and John Mole, with keyboard player Don Airey and guitarist Gary Moore blasting over the top. There was no need for a singer, as there was definitely no room for one, and if I had just heard the passage from TK with no knowledge of who it was I would have bet my life that it was from CII.

But, that is the only song like it on the album, and therein lies what for me is a strength but others may find confusing, in that this is an album where the band quite definitely refuse to sit within one musical style and instead want to expand their wings, developing and progressing as they go.

I awarded 'Shibboleth', the album immediately prior to this one, 4*'s and 'One For Sorrow', the one after it, 5 *'s and this is yet another fine example of an album worthy of top marks. It is definitely worth seeking out. www.thieveskitchen.com

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 One For Sorrow, Two For Joy by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.82 | 107 ratings

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One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team

4 stars I love Thieves' Kitchen! Vocalist Amy Darby is so unique--kind of a cross between THINKING PLAGUE's vocalist from 1996-2008, Deborah Perry, and the great ANNIE HASLEM. She has a strong, soothing voice that delivers her lyrics clearly, cleanly and yet with a melodic styling that is both unusual and interesting. On this new album the band is joined by some (ex-?) ANGLAGARD members to great effect--Thomas Johnson's keyboards, though mostly serving in a support role, and Anna Holmgren's flute contributions are quite welcome and provide a warmth and fullness that support Amy's vocals quite wonderfully. As always, I absolutely adore the pastoral themes--both musically and lyrically--that Amy and Rob explore.

Favorite songs: the gorgeous epic 5. "Germander Speedwell" (14:32) (10/10) which is a welcome addition to my all-time favorite prog epic list; the simple yet perfect folk song "The Weaver" (4:33) (10/10) and 2. "Deor" (7:51) (9/10). "Hypatia" (8:56), "A Fool's Journey" (8:19), and the jazzier "Of Sparks and Spires" (12:49) are each solid, interesting, and pleasurable 8/10 songs.

A 4.5 star album that I'm not (yet) willing to elevate to "masterpiece" status. Give it some more time. Highly recommended.

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 Argot by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.43 | 47 ratings

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Argot
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars I met Mark Robotham a few weeks ago and he told me how well this was selling, a fact also confirmed by Malcolm Parker at GFT. I was determined to give this a good hearing so I waited until I was in the car for a long drive and put it on. There are only four songs, but the album is over an hour in length, and they have decided to print the lyrics, but each song in a different language! (My good mate Artur Chachlowski provided the translation for "Escape").

"John Doe Number One" kicks off the album, and at twenty minutes plus I settled in to be impressed. You can tell that there is a 'but' coming, can't you. It's not my fault. I really wanted to like this album, I was determined to do so, but it cannot be my type of prog. I found that my attention kept wandering. Passages that should have gripped my attention just didn't. I know that there are going to be some who feel that this is a wonderful album, bringing together bands as diverse as King Crimson, Gentle Giant and Genesis, but it just didn't do anything for me.

Originally appeared in Feedback #63, July 01

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 One For Sorrow, Two For Joy by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.82 | 107 ratings

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One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars I was on www.progarchives.com the other night posting up some old reviews, and one of these was for TK's 'Shibboleth'. It was only then that I noticed that they had a new album out, so I went over to their website and after swapping some emails with guitarist Phil Mercy I ended up with a copy of 'One For Sorrow'. I originally got involved with TK when they formed in the late Nineties as I knew drummer Mark Robotham who had previously been with Grey Lady Down, but he is no longer with the band. 'Shibboleth' was their third album, and to my ears easily their best, although I did question at the time as to whether the band should consider becoming an instrumental group as I felt that their complexity didn't always leave enough room for vocalist Amy Darby. Apparently there has been an album between this and the last one I heard, and there have also been some line-up changes in that while Thomas Johnson (keyboards, ex-Anglagard) is there with Amy and Phil, the rest of the band are currently guests with Paul Mallyon (drums), Brad Waissman (bass) and Anna Holmgren (flute, also from Anglagard).

But, this doesn't come across as a project in any way as this is a band that know exactly what they are about. The music is incredibly complex, and at times has a hard rocking neo- prog guitar edge while at others it is much more symphonic. However, the big difference for me is that there appears to be a far greater understanding of the nuances of atmosphere and delicacy, combined with loads of control. This means that Phil and Thomas are quite happy to take the lead on instrumental passages yet also know when to rein it in and provide just the right amount of space for Amy. She has an incredible voice, particularly in regard to her breath and note control so that long drawn out sections is not an issue for her. At these times her voice is very much to the forefront, lifted over the maelstrom that is going on behind her. Thomas uses a great deal of different keyboard sounds and textures and that definitely adds to the picture that they paint.

As always, Rob Aubrey has done a sterling job with the production, so it doesn't matter if it is a quiet passage or bombastic, everything can be clearly heard and give the right emphasis. If I had to pick just one band for comparison then the obvious would be Renaissance, but with Amy singing more contralto than Annie's soprano. I am extremely reticent to provide more than one album with a 5 * rating in a sitting, and I have just done that with the new Comedy of Errors CD, but in all conscience I can't give it any less. I love it. www.thieveskitchen.com

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