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(49:55, ‘Mostly Autumn’)
TRACK LIST: 1. For All We Shared 7:18 2. Violet Skies 4:07 3. Deep in Borrowdale 6:53 4. Something Better 3:56 5. Go Well Diamond Heart 7:52 6. Back to Life 6:25 7. Hold the Sun 5:48 8. And When the War Is Over 7:32 LINEUP: Bryan Josh – vocals; guitars; keyboards Iain Jennings - keyboards, Hammond Anne-Marie Helder - vocals, flute Olivia Sparnenn – vocals Andy Smith – bass Gavin Griffiths – drums Liam Davison – guitars; vocals With: Troy Donockley – Uilleann pipes, whistles Marc Atkinson – backing vocals
Prolusion. The UK act MOSTLY AUTUMN is a well-established band on the progressive rock scene. They were formed back in 1992, made their debut as recording artists in 1998 and, since then, 9 more studio albums, about the same number of live albums and a handful of DVDs have seen the light of day. "Go Well Diamond Heart" is the most recent of their studio efforts.
Analysis. The scope of music considered to be progressive rock covers a large and colorful musical palette. Defining this genre will put you in front of a massive Gordian knot, itself made up of a plethora of minor versions of the same. For some, this album by Mostly Autumn will probably not be considered to be a part of the genre as such; for others it will perhaps be considered as a fairly representative specimen of the more accessible part of the art rock universe. But whether you belong to one camp or the other, I believe both opposing camps will agree with the material at hand being of a fairly mainstream-oriented nature. Accessible songs with an emphasis on moods and melodies are the alpha and omega of this production, structurally pretty straightforward affairs, and the main levels of refinement are to be found in the arrangements. Fairly similar in approach throughout, the compositions typically will open in a fragile, delicate manner, at times with some Celtic flavoring thrown in for good measure, and will relatively soon unfold into subtly majestic creations sporting richly-textured instrumentations with symphonic-inspired keyboard backdrops on top as the proverbial icing on the cake. The regular verse-and-chorus structure is the main choice for the shorter pieces, while the longer ones tend to feature an elongated build-up at some point, typically while building up tension in the stages between the end of the verse and the kick-off for the chorus part. Personally I'd describe this disc as one featuring material on the borderline between refined, dampened hard rock and accessible art rock, where the title track is the most interesting for avid fans of the latter. On this number the verse parts are made up of echoing psychedelic-tinged guitar licks on top of an insistent but dampened bass line, while the build-up to as well as the main chorus sports more of a purebred symphonic progressive rock expression, in the second run of the chorus nicely moving forward with a steady increase in pace and intensity, leading on to an elongated, dampened cinematic passage as the backdrop for a rather interesting spoken monolog. And while I wasn't totally blown away by the musical escapades on this disc, there's no denying that this is a high-quality release. Bryan Josh and Olivia Sparnenn are both more than able lead vocalists, and the mix and production are of excellent quality throughout. Which adds up to a good quality release in general, and one easily recommended to those who have a general fancy for art rock of the accessible variety.
Conclusion. Lightly flavored with Celtic-inspired details and with the occasional trace of acoustic singer/songwriter material in the backbone of the compositions, "Go Well Diamond Heart" is a good quality production of the kind that should find favor with most fans of accessible art rock, and in particular amongst those who also enjoy dampened refined hard rock, I presume. With stellar musicianship and production, the icing on the cake will be appreciated and enjoyed by this particular audience.
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