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Mostly Autumn - Sight Of Day CD (album) cover

SIGHT OF DAY

Mostly Autumn

 

Prog Folk

3.84 | 114 ratings

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lazland
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Sight of Day is Mostly Autumn's twelfth studio album. There is a massive contrast between this and the superb predecessor album, Dressed in Voices. Bryan Josh himself describes this as an "album of light", whilst Dressed....was as dark as a black hole. When reviewing that album, I posited that it might act as a springboard to greater commercial success, because this is surely well deserved. I fear this might never come about, but, as a prog cottage industry, they seem to keep coming up with excellent product, adored by a loyal fan base, and there are worse positions to be in, I suppose.

This album is more of a traditional Autumn work, blending effortlessly pomp prog, lilting guitar bursts, with that folk backdrop which led me to fall in love with their work way back when I first clapped ears on The Last Bright Light. It is far too simplistic to describe the band as a Floyd influenced vehicle. Of course, this is there, but there is so much more to them than that. For a start, the beautiful violin of Anne Phoebe, and deep flute of Angela Gordon, backing a sublime vocal on the exceptional ballad, Raindown, before giving way to a huge Josh guitar solo supported by sumptuous keyboard work, is simply Mostly Autumn at their unique best. There is no other band capable of this track, and the wonder of it all echoes in your mind long after the track finishes.

The title track is the opener, a 14 minute plus epic which simply lifts the spirit. The sound is epic, and Josh produces a soaring mid section solo. This gives way to the type of thoughtful acoustic folk prog they have always excelled at, with a knowing nod to Autumns Past, before concluding with such a joyous and raucous celebration of life and sound. Bryan's wife, Olivia Sparnenn-Josh, is now such an integral part of the band that it is becoming difficult to remember when she wasn't there. Her voice on this, and everywhere else, delights at every turn, and my best wishes to the pair of them for the impending birth of the first Josh Junior.

What Olivia demonstrates here is just what a marvellous range of vocal techniques she has. From the sheer front on pomp of the opener, with vocal and guitar jousting between the two, we are treated to a fragility on the thoughtful, and questioning, The Man Without A Name, a track which features a deceptively simple piano lead and background keys and rhythm guitar. A joy, and a highlight of the album.

However, to treat this as merely the Josh family vehicle would be a mistake. There have been many lineup changes over the years, but Josh has always surrounded himself with quality contributors, and a very pleasant surprise on this album was to hear a written and performed track, Changing Lives, by the returning Chris Johnson. A damned fine track it is, too, with the male/female vocal interplay after "come together" being particularly pleasing. Johnson, by the way, also gets a production credit on this.

I have always enjoyed Iain Jennings' keyboard work, and this is highlighted to great effect on the co-written, with Josh, and rather dark, Tomorrow Dies. The keyboards, together with some thumping drum work by Alex Cromarty, create a track which is about as futuristic as the band will ever come. Olivia belts out a massive vocal lead, and I can see this becoming a firm anthemic favourite in the live arena.

It is fantastic to welcome back the hugely talented flautist and vocalist, Angela Gordon, Anne-Marie Helder having left to concentrate on Panic Room and linked projects. In addition to her contribution to Raindown, I love the recorder intro to the Norse mythology track, Only The Brave. It is a misleading intro, though, because the main body of the song rocks along at a rollicking pace, showcasing, in particular, a very strong rhythm section in Cromarty and Andy Smith.

From Norse mythology imagined around a camp fire, we decamp to Native American spirituality and love of life in Native Spirit. The denouement, with guitar, dark, looming, keys, and pounding drums & bass creates a massive wall of sound, and is a particular delight. Josh produces a wonderfully sensitive vocal in the lead up to the end passage, which crackles with emotion.

Talking of which, the album closer, Forever and Beyond, is a lovely paeon to lost youth, absent friends, and thoughts of eternity. It is a gentle love song which always stays on the right side of mawkish, and is Celtic to its very roots.

There is not one bum note or track on this album, a fine addition to a library bursting with great work. It is quite excellent, and highly recommended, especially to those tempted to dip their toes in for a first ever listen to the band.

Four stars, but an extra half if we had the facility for such a rating.

lazland | 4/5 |

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