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Mostly Autumn - For All We Shared CD (album) cover


Mostly Autumn


Prog Folk

3.53 | 145 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Heroes never die - they sail forever!

One night a few years ago, I and a group of university colleagues decided on a beer/ walking holiday on the North Yorks Moors just before Christmas. We were settled in the bar of The Lion Inn when some of the most heavenly music I'd ever heard drifted through from the tiny room next door. The barman's palm was crossed with silver and we gained access (probably against all H&S regulations!). This was my first sight of Mostly Autumn doing their legendary annual Christmas party (I wouldn't miss this for all the gold in Fort Knox now).

My first thought was that an angel had been transported from Heaven, so exquisitely did Heather Findlay look and sing and the rest of the band were not far behind in terms of performance. I then bought this, their debut album.

And what an album it is. Sure, there's a few rough edges and some naivity here and there, but the quality of the compositions and the way they are executed shows the enormous potential of this band. The opener starts bizarrely with an excerpt from a rugby song (!) but soon develops into a gentle rocker with a singalong chorus, sung by Bryan Josh with no great tunefulness but plenty of emotion. Porcupine Rain has a very long intro before the vocals come in, sung jointly by Josh and Findlay and is backed by swathes of delicious keyboards. The Last Climb is long, gentle and slow, with a fine violin solo before culminating in one of Josh's long melodic solos. Folklore is a traditional jig, brilliantly executed whilst Boundless Ocean features some lovely whistle and pleasant harmony vocals. Shananigans is back to traditional Celtic folk with a driving rhythm and violin and whistle to the fore. Then the album really takes off with the slow, gentle and utterly exquisite Steal Away, with one of Findlay's finest vocal efforts and a rousing climax where Iain Jennings keyboards for a monster backdrop. Out of the Inn starts with an extract from BBC Radio 4's Lord of the Rings before entering a classical folk piece with whistle and violin, before suddenly changing into an all out folk rock epic with a wonderful, off the wall Josh solo. The Night Sky finishes off the album with a spacy, gentle opening section, again sung by Josh and Findlay in harmony, a middle section with a classic Bob Faulds violin solo and finally ending with another Josh extravaganza, backed all the time by Jennings' atmospheric work. So there it is, a wonderful first attempt and probably one of the best debut albums of all time.

But I've neglected Heroes Never Die. This is the ultimate jewel in the crown, written by Bryan Josh in memory of his father, a keen climber who features in much of their artwork. This is a featured track on the site so you listen for yourself; the emotion and beauty of the lyrics, the wonderful flute and keyboard playing and the sheer brilliance of Josh's climactic solo. Who cares if Josh sings flat at times - it's the emotion that counts.

I desperately want to give this the album the full monty but it isn't quite in my top 10 and they did even better albums later on, so it gets 4 stars. But what an album nevertheless.

Hercules | 4/5 |


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