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The Kentish Spires biography
Founded in England, UK in 2018

KENTISH SPIRES are an UK group formed by Phil WARREN and Danny CHANG from FYREWORKS, that is inspired by the Canterbury scene of the 70's. Robert REED of MAGENTA and CYAN collaborated with them on mastering their debut album which was released in 2018 and features Lucie V, Rik LOVERIDGE, Paul HORNSBY and Helen WILLIAMS on that line-up.

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3.21 | 9 ratings
The Last Harvest
3.21 | 5 ratings

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sprezzatura by KENTISH SPIRES, THE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.21 | 5 ratings

The Kentish Spires Canterbury Scene

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

3 stars The Kentish Spires is a Canterbury Scene band from England founded in 2018. The founders were Phil Warren (bass) and Danny Chang (guitars) who were later joined by Lucie V (vocals), Rik Loveridge (organ, synth) on their debut album. Their second album "Sprezzatura", released in August of 2019, also sees the addition of Chris Egan (reed, woodwinds, synths) and James Hall (drums). The album is available on CD and digitally on Bandcamp.

The album starts off with "Overture" (2:46). Beginning with a rapid fire drum and instrument riff, the music soon slips into a nice, smooth and upbeat jazz piece with clarinet, brass, guitar, organ and fuzzy synths, all generating energy and excitement for what's to come. This slips suddenly into acoustic guitar strumming he opening strains of "A Sea Shanty" (4:53), and a much simpler and folk-tinged melody sung by Lucie V, a 3 / 4 time tune which later gets underlayed with sustained synth notes and an accordion like effect. Lucie's vocals are deep and resonating and fit the music style nicely. After the music fades, sounds of far away music and seagulls ring through the air. "Don't Shoot the Albatross" (2:44) has a whimsical beat and almost jig-style rhythm to it, with the entire band playing complimentary parts and processed vocalization that occassionaly repeat the name of the song.

"Horsa from Beyond the Grave" (6:18) has a nice moderate beat with a nice rock/jazz fusion mix. When the vocals come in, everything but the piano stops bringing in other instruments slowly, After the verse, the band joins in with the vocals. The addition of the soft clarinet adds a nice layer to the music, which becomes more expressive and emotional as it continues, then backs off again for the following verse. Again, things build with more dramatic singing and the rhythm speeding up again. All through this dynamic change, the music never becomes dark or heavy, staying true to it's genre. "Wishing Well" (5:58) uses folk inspired lyrics and is a softer, yet well harmonized vocal sound. The music takes on a poppier aspect, but also remains laid back. The move to a more pop sound does tend to wash out the feel of the album a bit. Things quiet down to a minimal feel at the end as woodwinds echo and swirl around each other, dissonant at first, and then resolving to a peaceful ending. This coda almost seems like a different song, but it remains as one track

"You Better Shut Your Mouth" (4:13) moves to a moderate but more driving beat, and the vocals get sassier, pushing the music to be a bit heavier, but still remaining safely in the Canterbury style. The instrumental break holds true to the jazzy style of the genre, incorporating some nice drum and bass passages, adding to the progressiveness of the track before returning to the rockier edge of the melody. "Never Tell on Me" (6:08) goes back to the laid back sound, again trying for a more pop sound. The melody and sound is probably the most commercial sounding track. The instrumental break has a soft jazz sound mostly from the sax at first, but tension builds after a while as the bass, synth and guitar build intensity, but the pop sound returns when the vocals come back in.

"The Long Goodbye" (7:53) begins pensively, softly building, this time with male vocals, but I'm not sure who's doing the vocals at first, however Lucie's unique vocals come in later with a lot more emotion and drama. The synths create an orchestral sound that help create tension, which is later released with a major key shift in the melody and added harmonies. When the vocals end, the music returns to a pensive feel and a nice sax solo plays. After a while, percussion brings it to a moderately slow, steady feel, added guitars build more intensity and the brass becomes more dynamic bringing it to a climax with the return of emotional vocals. The last track is a remix done by Rob Reed of "Horsa Beyond the Grave" (5:46). The remix brings in a more rock and pop feel to the song.

The album is pretty good when the band stays more to the Canterbury sound. The songs that aim for the pop element are not as convincing, such as "Wishing Well" and "Never Tell On Me", while the tracks that keep the folk and jazz elements to the fore are much better, as in "The Long Goodbye", "A Sea Shanty" and "Horsa from Beyond the Grave." Overall, it's a good album with some weak tracks that tend to bring it down. Not bad, but not great either. Their sound is much better when they stay true to form.

 The Last Harvest by KENTISH SPIRES, THE album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.21 | 9 ratings

The Last Harvest
The Kentish Spires Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars An interesting intersection of sounds and styles as bluesy rock, pastoral folk, quirky jazz, goth female vocals, and retro sound engineering all are brought together.

1. "Kingdom of Kent" (11:10) the stew here almost works but, unfortunately, it all ends up still tasting like its component parts. The section surrounding the electric guitar solo in the fourth minute is the best--and where Lucie's voice is most integral--as a Clare Torrey background instrument. (8.5/10)

2. "Clarity" (Bonus Track Mixed By Rob Reed) (3:58) campy medieval jazz-folk? It's no Monty Python or Gryphon. (7.5/10)

3. "Sprit Of The Skies" (sic) (4:22) a great Sixties flower power sound and style is spoiled by a weak chorus. (9/10)

4. "TTWIG" (3:48) too weird to be taken seriously; maybe in the 1960s this would have worked. (7/10)

5. "Introception" (7:17) sounds like something from The Bay Area 1960s psychedelic movement--but from a band that we never heard of cuz they just weren't good enough to make it to Monterey or a record label. (7/10)

6. "Clarity" (3:58) the band's own more mediŠval version of this bluesy song is in my opinion much better than the one above. (8/10)

7. "The Last Harvest" (13:09) opens as a quite ordinary plodding rock standard before exploding into an interesting jazz fusion extravaganza at the 3:58 mark. Unfortunately, this too becomes tedious in its foundational singularity despite an stop-and-start pseudo-bridge in the seventh minute. Just before the seven minute mark we regress into the Procul Harum-like plod of the opening section over which Lucie tries to scream us out of our malaise and boredom. Guitar solo is too familiar--technically competent but we've heard it before. Sax and background chorus of "ohh/ahh's" as well. (7.5/10)

8. "Hengist Ridge" (4:30) a smooth jazz start to this one is at least engaging, sax and pretty rhythm support (especially the jazzy guitar). It even seems to give Lucie a little more reason to sound and feel genuine in her performance. heck! She's packing the power of a soul/R&B diva on this one! Easily the best song on the album. (9/10)

The final song seems the direction I would strongly urge this band to explore more of: we need to fill the void left by the absence of EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL, SADE, and SWING OUT SISTER. But Canterbury sound? I don't hear it.

3.5 stars; a good, competent though rather inconsistent and scattered effort.

Thanks to historian9 for the artist addition.

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