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(44:33; White Knight Records)
This is the third album C-Sides, who apparently have gone through a slight name change. Originally formed by three ex-members of the mighty Magenta, it still features Martin Rosser (guitar, backing vocals) and Allan Mason-James (drums), while singer/bassist Allen McCarthy has been there since the debut. But only one year on from the last album and there have been other changes, with Sian Elson joining as co-lead singer with Allen, and new keyboard player in Kevin Dawson. With male and female vocals now at the forefront, the band has a different sound than previously, so of course the only way to announce their presence is with a full-blown concept album, complete with narration (provided by Molly Elson). This is based on the ten days Nellie Bly, an American reporter in the late 1800’s, spent in the asylum for the insane on Blackwell Island. There are eleven songs in total, one for each of the days with the last being “On Reflection”. Overall the album is a delight, with a very modern sound which is light and unpretentious, yet also with plenty of nods back to bands like Genesis and Yes, while also bringing in Magenta, IQ, Big Big Train and Galahad. The music twists and moves, and one is never sure if the acoustic guitars are going to take central stage, whether it will be rocking along, or if it will be something more melodic. There is even slide guitar! A special mention must be made of the production, which is simply superb. The resonance coming from the acoustic is quite astonishing and should be held up as a way of doing things. Allen McCarthy and Sian Elson’s vocals work incredibly well together, both melodic and fluid, yet the different ranges allows for additional depth and emotion to be portrayed. Punchy, dramatic, full of life and vigour, this is a superb album which delivers more each and every time I listen to it.
noindex>White Knight Records
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