In 2012 the British act Mostly Autumn released The Ghost Moon Orchestra (see review). An album which I loved whole heartedly. The bands follow up Dressed In Voices (2014, see review) was for me personally a step back music wise. The compositions for this release didn't get me by the throat as on its predecessor. But with every new release of the band it's a new chance to get to the same level shown on The Ghost Moon Orchestra Well this new album has been released in 2017 and is titled Sight Of Day.
On this twelfth studio album two former members return in the line up of the band. Angela Gordon (whistle, recorders, flute, backing vocals) has replaced Anne-Marie Helder and Chris Johnson (vocals, keys, guitars, tambourine) has replaced Liam Davison. Still on board are Olivia Sparnenn-Josh (vocals, keys, tambourine), Bryan Josh (vocals, guitars, keys), Iain Jennings (keys, Hammond organ), Andy Smith (bass guitar) and Alex Cromarty (drums). Like on almost every album release the band has some help from guest musicians. Also this time around we can welcome a couple, namely Anna Phoebe (Papillon) on violin and Troy Donockley (Nightwish) on Uilleann pipes and whistles.
Right from the start with the opening piece the band grabs you by the throat. The title track clocks almost fifteen minutes and has everything a great progressive rock tunes needs to keep your attention all the way. The piano parts sound amazing next to the beautiful vocal parts of Olivia. But it is also Bryan who shines on his electric guitar by playing some awesome solos. A true classic Mostly Autumn composition has been made by the band and will certainly be an audience favourite during their live concerts. No question about that! Also on the next track Josh shines on his electric guitar and also does the lead vocals on Once Around The Sun. The piano again takes the lead on the following track and the second highlight of the album comes to the surface. It is most of all Olivia who has a leading role on this composition which she wrote together with her husband. The Man Without A Name is a similar kind of song as Unquiet Tears, Questioning Eyes and Tonight. Songs on which Livvy can shine all the way and prove to be one of the best female singers in the progressive rock genre. Fine double lead vocals can be heard on Hammerdown by the married couple Bryan and Olivia. To spice up the song another great guitar solo is added. Something which I like all the way. For the next piece a composition of Johnson' was used. It was obvious that he did the lead vocals on Changing Lives himself. Also on this track an excellent guitar solo can be enjoyed. The song fits perfectly on the album next to the compositions which are mainly written by Bryan Josh. Half way through the album the high level of compositions continues and that is a very good thing. The married couple are also responsible for the next track. A more hard rock approach can be heard on the up tempo Only The Brave with Bryan on lead vocals. Again the beautiful twin vocal parts of Olivia and Bryan lifts the song to a higher level. The song also has fine parts from guests Anna Phoebe and Troy Donockley. Native Spirit is another Josh composition on which he does the lead vocals himself. This song about Indians features one of his typical guitar solos which you can hear on many Mostly Autumn albums. The song comes to a beautiful climax with great orchestral parts from the keyboards. For Tomorrow Dies Iain Jennings and Bryan Josh got together to write a strong up tempo piece. Of course the keyboards dictate the song most of the time. The song is once again a great vehicle for Livvy to showcase her vocal capacities. Wow! she really blows you out of your chair the way she sings on this! On the next piece Raindown once again the duo Anna Phoebe and Troy Donockley have been given beautiful musical parts to shine on. But it is also Olivia who sings once again very strongly on this ballad. The final notes are for Bryan and his electric guitar who comes up with an amazing solo once again! The album ends with Forever And Beyond. The song has a feeling of the early Mostly Autumn days when more folk influences were incorporated in the music they wrote. Both Bryan and Olivia are doing the lead vocals on this beautiful piece of music. The song once again shows that the band can come up with excellent compositions and ends the album in style.
Sometimes a step back is followed by two steps forward. I guess this also goes for Sight Of Day. It happened more often in the past that the band came up with an excellent album after a release which had lesser compositions. Highly recommended to all Mostly Autumn fans and progressive rock lovers in general! Certainly one of the musical highlights of 2017!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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