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The Wishing Tree - Ostara CD (album) cover


The Wishing Tree


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3.37 | 33 ratings

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4 stars Thirteen years after their original collaboration on Carnival Of Souls, Marillion's Steve Rothery and Hannah Stobart have reunited for Ostara. It's a truly beautiful album and one of the more pleasant surprises of 2009.

Don't be expecting anything along the lines of Marillion though; in fact if it wasn't for the involvement of Rothery it's doubtful if this would have a place on Prog Archives. This album is simply all about the songs with no excess flash or baggage with Stobart's gorgeously pure voice taking centre stage. Rothery plays most of the instruments, though not drums which are played with subtle restraint by Paul Craddick. Rothery though happy to take a back seat plays with his usual understated and tasteful style with a mixture of acoustic and electric guitar, bass and some of the keyboard work too, the rest played by mike Hunter.

The songs are highly melodic and beautifully crafted light rock with some folk inflections. The album is pretty much one pace though with a laid back vibe but this works in its favour making it an ideal record to chill out too when you want something easy on the ears. It certainly wasn't a problem for me as Hannah Stobart weaves her vocal magic around the delicate melodies and graceful backing vocals are the icing on the cake, mainly handled by Stobart with some help from Jo Rothery. Steve Rothery adds the occasional guitar solo, always tastefully executed in keeping with overall vibe.

Ostara is a consistently strong album largely lacking any particular highs and lows though my own personal favourites are Easy, which reminds me of American alternative country rockers Hazeldine and Fly. Particularly impressive on Fly is the way Stobart weaves her voice around the haunting and lilting melody; truly lovely.

Ostara has turned out to be one of my favourite albums of 2009 and will certainly make my top 10. Hopefully I won't have to wait another 13 years for the next one.

Nightfly | 4/5 |


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