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The Morrigan - Hidden Agenda CD (album) cover

HIDDEN AGENDA

The Morrigan

 

Prog Folk

4.01 | 12 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars A night to remember

Hidden Agenda is The Morrigan's fifth, and to date most recent, album. Let's hope that there will be further releases from the band in the future, but if not they certainly went out with bang with this one. Right from the get-go it is clear that this is a more high-powered album compared to the previous two. The electric guitar playing of Collin Masson has never before been quite as potent as it is here. His guitar sound sometimes evokes that of Mike Oldfield and occasionally that of Allan Holdsworth. The opening track is a lively instrumental called Swallow's Tale featuring the characteristic Celtic whistles, a fitting opener. In The End is the first vocal number and a very pleasant one it is. Up next is a dazzling medley of electrified 17th century dance tunes. Gryphon might come to mind here, but The Morrigan is much more Rock than Gryphon ever was. Indeed, they are more Rock here than they ever were themselves before. South Australia is a rather typical raucous British Folk Rock song in the tradition of (post-Sandy Denny) Fairport Convention.

The centrepiece of the album is the nearly ten minute A Night To Remember which is a full blown Prog number. The lyric tells a story of a ship that collides with an ice berg; most probably it is about Titanic. Here Cathy Alexander's delightful vocals fully enter the picture backed up the other members. This elaborate song features several different moods and tempos that enhance the story to great effect. Sleive Russell/March Hare mixes Celtic Folk with Jazz to great effect. The Other is the poppiest of the songs on Hidden Agenda in that it has a rather catchy chorus, but this is not to say that it is not good. Alexander sounds a bit like Annie Haslam of Renaissance on this piano-based tune and there is an excellent Steve Hackett-like guitar solo. Joe Cooley's Reel is just what the title implies - a rocking reel in the style of Tempest (the US-based Prog Folk band not to be confused with the British Heavy Prog band of the same name). Simply excellent stuff! The album closes with The Parting Glass which could have been by Sandy Denny-era Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span and is a simply beautiful Folk ballad.

With so many different styles involved, Hidden Agenda could easily have been sprawling and incoherent, but it actually holds together very well. The end result is a perfect balance of acoustic and electric instruments, male and female vocals, rocking and soothing tempos and whimsical and serious moods. There is a certain charm that helps to bind the different elements together almost seamlessly.

Highly recommended!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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