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Mostly Autumn - Go Well Diamond Heart CD (album) cover


Mostly Autumn


Prog Folk

3.47 | 114 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Mostly Autumn are a band whose career I have followed since they started. They perplex me in many ways, not least of which is why they have never quite reached the commercial heights they are clearly more than capable of reaching. In sporting terms, they are a team that are constantly at the top of the second division, but can never quite manage to get themselves promoted to the premier league.

Will this new release do it for them? Well, the first thing to state is that they have managed to produce an exceptionally good album without the main reason a lot of us started to listen and watch in the first instance, namely one Heather Findlay. Her successor, Olivia Sparnenn, a backing vocalist previously, steps up to the plate more than adequately.

We actually had a big taste of the feel of this album musically with Bryan Josh's excellent solo album, Through These Eyes, on which Sparnenn shone.

The first track, For All We Shared, opens with a Celtic tinge in best traditions of the band. The main part of the song transforms into the type of grandiose rock anthem that they have become very adept at and is played very tightly, with a very good vocal performance by Olivia heading up some mighty riffs. A grand climax with vocal harmonies especially between the two main protagonists leads us to ask the question...Heather who?

Violet Skies features a thunderous bassline leading a deceptive acoustic guitar and sensitive vocals. A very understated track and a triumph for Olivia vocally. Her voice soars and you know she is a worthy successor. It is also nice that this track is dedicated to Heather.

Deep In Borrowdale features Josh taking lead vocal duties.. His voice has improved tremendously over the years, and you no longer wish he wouldn't bother, and when he & Sparnenn combine, it produces great harmonies. A track which has classic rock written all over it, but with a nice acoustic & flute interlude (played by the always excellent Anne Marie Helder) included prior to the epic climax. Josh certainly knows how to produce the killer guitar solo.

Something Better is the natural successor to Josh's incredible solo album, both lyrically and musically, but also with a very knowing nod to the exceptional Heroes Never Die. A brilliant four minutes of commercial hard rock combined with a thoughtful diatribe against our modern day leaders, as opposed to classical figures who would have "got it right". Hugely enjoyable.

The title track produces something special, and, lyrically, is very clever dealing with a brave soldier dying in Afghanistan (he was a MA fan). Josh proves just how much he has matured as a lyricist on this, but also it is the case that the music itself backs the obvious pain felt by all. I could have done without the press conference recordings, because, simply, the music didn't require them. It is by far the most symphonic of the pieces on the album, and features a wall of sound played by the welcome return of Iain Jennings on keyboards, and new drummer Gavin Griffiths shines on this.

Sparnenn co-wrote the last three tracks, and the first of these, Back To Life, is a welcome return to a more folky, pastoral, feel following the emotionally draining rock of what went before. She sings very well, and I think the key to this performance is that she does not try to emulate Findlay. She is as good a performer in her own right, and she rightly makes this lovely track her own, rather than a cheap copy of her predecessor's style. A gorgeous song, beautifully performed.

Hold The Sun is a very catchy commercial rock track, very easy on the ears, and played with a very tight intensity by the entire ensemble. The Josh solo at the close is straight from the top drawer.

Closer And When The War Is Over really does, lyrically, what it says in the title, and is a bittersweet track which expresses sweet regret over all of the futile losses we have experienced in Bush & Blair's conflicts, but also looks forward in a way that Waters never quite managed to do. It is very reminiscent of Roger's solo work, without ever being truly retro, and, indeed, highlights the band's excellent knack of mixing traditional folk with symphonic rock, and is a fine way to close proceedings.

So, is this, as Classic Rock Presents Prog stated, the finest Mostly Autumn album? Not quite. I still think that privilege belongs to Passengers, but this really isn't that far behind. Will it be enough to propel them into the Premier League? Maybe not, but, you know that it will keep them in the Play Offs, and if this excellent album is translated into the long overdue masterpiece on the next album, the sky is the limit for this very important and talented band.

To make such a good album in the absence of their talismanic singer is quite some achievement. This is one of the best releases of 2010, and that is, I know, a very good and tight field.

Four stars. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection, and one that I highly recommend to fans of the band who might have fallen away from them, and also prog lovers who admire their folk and bombastic, symphonic, heavy prog rock all in one sumptuously produced package.

lazland | 4/5 |


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