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(51:42, ‘Ricky Gardiner Songs’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Lions 6:27 2. Her Hand in Mine 8:53 3. Promise in Motion 8:03 4. The Edible Woman Again 6:51 5. You Misremember Me 6:45 6. Bees 6:59 7. Clyde 7:46 LINEUP: Ricky Gardiner – guitar, bass; vocals Virginia Scott – piano, Mellotron Tom Gardiner – drums
Prolusion. The Scottish band BEGGARS OPERA is a band that remains most famous for their first three albums, released at the start of the 1970's. The following years saw their releases steadily decline in interest from the buying public and arguably decline in quality too, until they called it a day with the aptly named "The Final Curtain" in 1986. Just over 20 years later they reappeared however, and since then Beggars Opera has been a highly productive unit. With the release of "Promise in Motion" in 2011 and "Mrs. Caligari's Lighter" in 2012 their later day albums now make up almost half of their total discography.
Analysis. "Promise in Motion" is the sixth studio production by Beggars Opera, following their return as recording artists back in 2007, and as with the greater majority of material they have released in this new phase of the band's history, we're dealing with a disc containing music that can be described as accessible. The compositions are slow moving affairs, utilizing tempo changes for one effect or the other not something you encounter too often, nor are pieces employing stark, raw contrasts to create and emphasize nerve and tension. Instead we're dealing music with its heart and soul in melodies and harmonies. Virgina's lead vocals demonstrate quite nicely why we have the expression lead vocals, her voice a distinct and strong presence, as appears to be customary for Beggars Opera. Her skills as a keyboardist are given lots of room as well, with layered rich arrangements as a core feature throughout. Opting for both dark and light motifs on most occasions, but in a smooth manner that partially covers up this normally dominating aspect quite nicely. Virginia's arguable trademark wandering piano motifs are actually the most dramatic detail found, quite nicely adding a distinct mood and atmosphere to the proceedings. Occasional surging textures with a careful cosmic vibe to them is another detail worth mentioning. Ricky's guitars have more of a subservient role throughout, shining brightest whenever he launches into a longing guitar solo in the style of David Gilmour, but also employing dampened dark toned guitar riffs as well as gentler licks giving the compositions an extra touch of finesse when used. Fine and competent rhythms work by Tom Gardiner too, giving the aforementioned instruments ample room for maneuvers. The end result is, by and large, a type of music I'd describe as Pink Floydian in mood and sound, but with a few extra bells and whistles that emphasize a greater focus on the symphonic art rock side of matters. A solid album it is, albeit without coming across as anything of a true masterpiece. But well made and assembled production it is, documenting quite nicely that this is a band that still has a lot to offer.
Conclusion. Atmospheric laden symphonic progressive rock with some distinct similarities to late 70's Pink Floyd is what Beggars Opera has to offer on "Promise in Motion". Carefully assembled compositions, all sporting layered keyboard arrangements and Virginia's lead vocals as dominating features. An album that merits a check by those who tend to find accessible symphonic progressive rock to be of interest.
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