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The Gift - Land Of Shadows CD (album) cover


The Gift


Symphonic Prog

3.68 | 68 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The Gift is very fine but all too little known British band. (By the way, I just noticed that if one searches for it elsewhere in the net, it's difficult since there are several other artists bearing that name.) The founding members were vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mike Morton and guitarist Leroy James, and the debut album Awake and Dreaming came out in 2006. It took eight years to release the follower Land of Shadows. Leroy James has been replaced by David Lloyd who also shares keyboard playing and composing/arranging credits with Morton.

The 1-minute spoken intro 'I Sing of Change' sets the album's calm mood, featuring some sea sounds and delicate flute. It is followed by a 12-minute track 'The Willows' that demonstrates perfectly what's The Gift all about. Starting in a peaceful and melodic singer-songerwriter approach, around the fourth minute it turns into faster, instrumentally beginning section full of traditional progressive rock hallmarks such as soaring solos and the Genesis-reminding mellotron sounds. There are some intensive moments making the track a school example of symphonic prog's wide dynamics between delicacy and energy, all in a natural flow. Melodies remind me here and there of Barclay James Harvest and Camel. The latter association suits also for the vocals; they sound like a cross between Andy Latimer and Anthony Phillips (think of his album Wise After the Event, 1978).

'Road Runs til Morning' starts majestically and shamelessly in a 70's fashion with mellotron, but the sound gets slightly more modern. At times the song feels rather straight-forward but the piece manages to be surprisingly progressive in the end. 'Walk into the Water' continues the band's habit of combining melodic tenderness with dynamic width. The pompousness is rather similar to The Flower Kings or other retroish modern bands inspired by Genesis and Yes. 'Too Many Hands' is for the most part rather a middle-of-the-road, semi-fast rock/pop song, perhaps the least interesting track of this album.

'You Are the Song' highlights Morton's passionate vocals and piano, and later on it's coloured by mellotron and guitars. 'The Comforting Cold' is nearly 20 minutes long and indeed it uses the time for a truly progressive epic grandiosity. There's also a spoken section adding the sense of drama, and the solos for both guitars and keyboards are ideally measured. Amazing piece! The brief, mainly acoustic guitar backed 'As' bookends the album that also started with a short vocal oriented track. I wouldn't quite announce this as a perfect prog album -- actually it may be a bit too "perfection-seeking" and calculated in all its pompous dynamics -- but definitely it's very charming if you enjoy pastoral delicacy combined with the usual "think big" symph prog. Anthony Phillips meets Camel meets Yes.

Matti | 4/5 |


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