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Grace - Pulling Strings And Shiny Things CD (album) cover





3.45 | 14 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Of the trilogy of studio albums released by the reformed Grace in the 1990s, "Pulling Strings and Shiny Things" is by far the most accomplished, most progressive and least neo progressive. The band's ability to blend Gothic elements with Celtic rock and neo prog is quite unique. Throw in rather deft inclusion of songs within songs and somewhat obtuse lyrics about critters called Mullions and puppets that come out to play and you almost have a soundtrack to a B-grade horror movie, in all the right ways.

"The Fool" starts things off well with an infectious Celtic style melody and vocals handled well by Mac Austin, whose voice suits the style of the band. "Mullions" is one of the strongest tunes, quite a chilling and at the same time silly epic about creatures that live in the lake and come out and eat your bones. The sparse flute and acoustic guitar accompaniment helps build the tension described by the story, and if you don't listen to the words the song may appear boring, but luckily they can be heard easily, even if their intended meaning is obscure. About halfway through the song takes a different turn and become more animated, particularly the flutes and almost honky tonk piano.

"Earth Bites Back" has a clearly ecological slant and is a more uptempo number. It again features great flutes and a fine riff to introduce a catchy chorus. Again, in the midsection it changes tempo effectively, carrying on the trend of mini-suites. "Hanging Rock" and "Architects of War" both carry on this format without becoming boring, unless of course you need some hard rock mixed with your neo. "Gift" is more in the vein of "Mullions", bringing back the Gothic horror theme with haunting atmospherics and lyrics. Note this darkness is a whole lot lighter than you get with either Pink Floyd or Mostly Autumn - it produces the chilling effect without resulting in the subsequent downer.

While a few lapses back into the aimlessness of the previous album do occur in "Lean on me" and "Every Clown", this is the Grace album worth pulling strings to get.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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