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Mostly Autumn - Sight Of Day CD (album) cover

SIGHT OF DAY

Mostly Autumn

 

Prog Folk

3.81 | 145 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 'Dressed in Voices' was the long awaited return to form for the British prog-folk band Mostly Autumn, a fact that was recognized be all critics and fans and in order to further consolidate their position, the follow up 'Sight of Day' keeps the eye on the progressive prize. Lead singer Olivia Sparnenn-Josh is once again given a strong melodic platform to show off her considerable range and powerhouse delivery. She just may be the current prima donna (in the positive sense) of prog, at least in my humble opinion. This solid crew has been together for quite a while now and they seemed to have found their calling once again, focusing on crushingly attractive melodies sprinkled by some spectacular instrumental soloing from the fabulous guitar of Bryan Josh and Iain Jennings' ornate keyboard wizardry. The tight rhythm section of Andy Smith and Alex Cromarty act as the perfect motor for the band to pull of some masterful arrangements and thus create vivid, entertaining music of the highest order. Chris Johnson is the perfect rhythmic guitarist for Josh, liberating his gun-slinging technique with soaring, gliding solos that pierce the clouds.

The title track opens up the velvety curtains with a rather incredible 14 minute epic masterpiece that encapsulates the real essence of MA, a heady mixture of romantic and bombastic zeal that dives into exciting melodicism and bold instrumental play. Iain Jennings lovely piano introduces a dignified and confident vibe, setting the melancholic tone for a spiral of delicious sounds, seamless shifts and crazed soloing. Needless to say, Olivia sings like the wind, gently powerful when needed and utterly expressive.

Maintaining a luminous disposition ,'Once Around the Sun' offers quite a shimmering bombastic touch, with a Bryan Josh that winks at classic Roger Daltry (Who?). The melody has a little native Indian beat to it, a trait that will surface later in the track list, the organ in particular shining bright. Powerfully simple, immediately catchy and cool. 'Take care of yourself', he said.

The short but crushingly beautiful 'The Man without a Name' has Olivia showing her unbelievable voice, crystal clear and precise, vocal perfection in both delicacy and power. She has an almost Sarah Brightman tinge, a compliment of the highest order, I can assure you. Stripped down and pure, quite a gem to behold, with mostly piano as an escorting vessel.

What I find particularly appealing is their treatment of conventional structured songs, which they mould into something very much in their image, like the bluesy rocker 'Hammerdown', a raucous and fervent cry in the dark, that has classic rock stamped all over it, loaded with perspiration and muscle. Bryan Josh's voice crackles with emotion and his soaring guitar follows suite, screeching high and mighty like only he can.

Displaying incredible variety, the Chris Johnson-sung, produced and penned 'Changing Lives' surprises by fitting nicely within the overall framework , yet completely different from the other tracks here, a modern soft rocker that sizzles unashamedly, coming together as one, male and female voices in harmonious communion. Jennings' raging Hammond organ shudders violently as the overwrought guitars howl to the moon. Massive and feisty, 'Only the Brave' has wave upon wave of windswept bombast that incorporate some of Troy Donockley pipes and whistles. Early Mostly Autumn initially focused on strong folk roots, inserting a pastoral feel as well as eclectic instruments into their compositions and it's great to see that gift being added to a rather bruising and athletic rock track. 'Viking water, gods of thunder'.

Contrast that with another epic highlight track, a brooding and extreme splurge of sound, reliving native Indian lore, both in the instrumental envelope as well as lyrically. Bryan's focus on Canada is quite a stirring revelation, as my country certainly has the vast lands, 'mountains, trees and bright moons'. 'Native Spirit' is a fascinating track, replete with sweeping and dark orchestrations that keep the rhythmic thunder in check, a brilliant performance from Cromarty, pummeling like a feathered warrior on the war path. Both Josh's guitar and voice go way beyond the horizon, deep and trembling into the moonlit night.

Iain Jennings is quite the keyboardist, orchestrating modern swaths of sound in a most symphonic style as he did rather vividly once on 'Distant Train' off the Passengers album, so it comes as no surprise that 'Tomorrow Dies' is heavily clad in dense arrangements that highlight Olivia's authoritative vocal. Man, can this woman sing, or what? I still have goosebumps listening to this blurting yelp for salvation. Thrilling, expansive, shimmering and glittering. One of MA finest pieces ever.

Josh is a bad man, as he follows up with two more absolute killer tracks to finish off slaying my pleasure. 'Rain Down' hushes the deepest sentiments, violins in tow, evoking the majesty of Mother Nature's cleanse, both a torrent of rejuvenation and a cascade of satiation. Angels waiting to towel down the tired soul, momentarily drenched in emotional comfort. This track is so poignant, intensely vivid and heartfelt, a sheer joy to behold. Surely a concert highlight, perhaps even encore material.

Closing the book on this 73 minute extravaganza, 'Forever and Beyond' is simplicity incarnate, featuring a radiant and truthful ode to life and all its tribulations, bathed in a pastoral and folky setting. Perhaps hearkening back to their first album , 1999's 'For All We Shared', a time of rebellious discovery and artistic expression, this passionate vocal duet between husband and wife, soon to be father and mother, is as exhilaratingly personal as it gets and we are all blessed to be witnesses to all this impending joy. The feel is upbeat, smiling right and incredibly positive.

We all need music like this in today's screwed up world. Panacea, genuine art, passion-fueled music of the highest order, something anyone with a pumping heart can understand and ultimately feel inside of themselves. This Mostly Autumn ship will keep on flying'.

5 Visions of Time

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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