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Jethro Tull - Stormwatch CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.46 | 747 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Stormwatch" works simultaneously as the closure for an era and the culmination of a specific musical development: the golden era of Jethro Tull had to end someday (and that included the core line-up that had made it happen for almost 10 years in a row) and this album was the appointed testament; also, the writing style and usual arrangements link this album to the previous studio efforts "Songs From the Wood" and "Heavy Horses". Regarding the latter point, it is clearly a sing of the times that this particular album suffers the comparison with the aforementioned master opuses, and you can tell that the exhaustion is there underneath the traces of remaining creativity and continuing energy. "Stormwatch" stands somewhere between the symphonic architecture of "Wood" and the straightforward folkloric spirit of "Horses", which is theoretically great, but indeed, the material shows hints of reiteration ? 'Dark Ages' is almost a statement of reminders from 'Pibroch' and 'No Lullaby', while 'North Sea Oil' aims at becoming the sequel of 'And the Mouse Police Never Sleeps' and 'Flying Dutchman' sounds like a compromise between a poor man's 'Heavy Horses' and some acoustic ballad that may have been left out of the "Minstrel in the Gallery" sessions. I regret that these sentences may potentially sound harsher than they actually mean to be, since I really enjoy the agile moods of 'North Sea Oil', and let alone, love the varied majesty of 'Dark Ages' as well as the sophisticated romanticism of 'Flying Dutchman'. My essential complaint is that I, as a JT follower, feel a bit uncomfortable with the notion of Anderson & co. holding on to ideas and frameworks that are beginning to feel more formulaic than archetypical. All in all, however, these tracks are great in themselves. One can also tell that this album's overall mood is more somber and melancholic than the other two referenced albums. For instance, the contemplative solitude exuded by that lovely acoustic ballad entitled 'Dun Ringill' is followed by the airs of mystery and weird spirituality conveyed by 'Flying Dutchman', and finally, the Palmer-penned epilogue 'Elegy' culminates this sense of mourning in a most beautiful fashion. The sequence of these last three tracks seem to magically portray the sense of loss of ancient cosmovisions in the face of industrial progress and urban developments, the defeat of natural purity in the hands of modern industry's artificiality. (By the way, did I explain that this is the album's basic concept? No? Well, there you have it.) You can also sense that melancholy vividly in the sequence of 'Orion' and 'Home' that precede the progressive explosion of 'Dark Ages': those songs are beautiful, moving. No bad song in this album, it's only that the album's integral conception fails to be 100% refreshing. 'Something's On The Move' opens up the album's latter half with full rocking splendor, and following is 'Old Ghosts', which is more candid and folk-based: concerning the latter, I've always felt intrigued by the combination of eerie string arrangements and playful mandolin interventions, solidly displayed on an alternation of 7/8 and 4/4 tempos. So, 3.99 stars go for this symbolic album in JT's history: great but not totally great, still very good at revealing the basic qualities of JT's eclectic musical vision. And of course, way better than the albums released in the very latest 70s by other fellow progressive bands.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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