MOSTLY AUTUMN Go Well Diamond Heart (2010)
I first discovered Mostly Autumn back in 2002 when they played a pub gig in my home town of Leamington Spa, which I only noticed while leafing through Classic Rock Magazine, and from the first few seconds of the opening number I could tell that I had found something very special that would play a large part in my life. I have seen the band live many times over the years, including flying to Edinburgh to see them support Bryan Adams and planning a short break in Cornwall to take in a performance.
Live as on album this band never disappoint and I have also over the years had the honour of meeting the band many times and I am sure there is not a more friendly group of people in the music industry,
This album is such an important one for the band because although the band has lost members before (some returning later) this time it was lead vocalist Heather Findlay who has moved on, who in my opinion is one of the best female rock vocalists in the country.
Luckily they have the perfect replacement in Oliva Sparnnen (another of the best female vocalists in the country) who has of course been a member of the band for several years as well as fronting Breathing Space until leaving that band to concentrate on Mostly Autumn last year, and she is doing an absolutely fantastic job as lead singer both live and on the new album.
Last August myself and my wife were honoured to have been invited to a first playback party for Go Well Diamond Heart for the band, family and close friends, so we found ourselves in an absolutely lovely farmhouse near Burnley and it was a night we will never forget.
The version played on the night was the pre-order double cd (disc one was the retail release reviewed below and disc two a complete
CD of extra excellent new material) and after an introduction by band leader, vocalist and guitarist Bryan Josh accompanied by what must have been at least 50 candles to add to the atmosphere we were treated to the first playback of the band's latest masterpiece.
As you will read in the review I was very impressed but then their albums are always so consistently good so no real surprise there, everyone treated us both so well during our visit, we had plenty of chats with the band members and other guests and the evening went on to the early hours with good food, good real ale and of course excellent company, after the album playback there was a very special moment with the lighting and releasing of Chinese lanterns to wish the album good luck.
There is always a great deal of thought put into the artwork on Mostly Autumn releases and Go Well Diamond Heart is no exception, the cover is a striking image of a red circle of flame against a black background, within which is the band name, album title and enclosed in a white diamond outlined shape the famous Mostly Autumn leaf in the centre of a a red heart shape design.
The album booklet first page is made up of an excellent arty publicity photo of the band while the remaining pages, one track a page have the lyrics on one side and in keeping with the front cover, white diamond shapes filled with beautiful drawings relating to the songs theme on the other.
Here's a summary of each track:
For All We Shared
The album begins with a nice touch, a track named after the very first Mostly Autumn album, the introduction is truly haunting with choral like vocals, atmospheric keyboard effects alongside subtle guitar, gentle cymbal work and the always magnificent uilleann pipe work of Troy Donockley all blending together perfectly.
The track after the dramatic introduction turns out to be a toe tapping medium paced rocker with lead vocals shared between Bryan and Olivia with superb lead guitar flourishes, and not for the only time on the album I get the impression that Heather is not a long way from the bands thoughts.
A beautiful medium paced number that has a light, breezy summer, feel to it, with its gentle acoustic guitar work and Olivia's laid back vocal approach and for me almost a radio friendly pop feel to it (very good pop with a touch of rock of course).
Deep in Borrowdale
A gentle start to the albums first out and out rocker a real rousing number with its tight guitar riff, Bryan on lead vocals singing about wine women and song in a real positive up beat number, and a great track to head bang live to. The lyrics of course relate to one of Bryan's favourite places Borrowdale valley in Cumbria and the number really has an earthy quality to it.
The other real rocker on the album with it's cracking Thin Lizzy style main riff, and a very catchy chorus with lyrics bemoaning the lack of real heroes in the world today and the general poor state of to quote the band "This Great Blue Pearl" we all live on. This number is a showcase for the guitar work of Bryan and Liam Davison also the solid bass work of Andy Smith.
Go Well Diamond Heart
The title track and the real epic piece of the album, a track dedicated to the bravery of seriously injured soldier and friend of the band Ben Parkinson, such a well structured dramatic number and also an example of the second theme of the album the horror and heartbreak of war.
Starting with the sound of a jet fighter going overhead (or possibly a missile) the number transports us to the front line with the grim realities of war, " your friend in pieces", "blood in the sky" and towards the end after stunning machine gun, bomb blasts and air raid siren sound effects the voice of Colonel James Learmont appears with a stark portrayal of life in the firing line. An extremely powerful piece and one bound to be a live classic.
Back To Life
The kind of number made for Olivia's beautiful vocal delivery, a gentle but flowing rock ballad which also includes exquisite keyboard and flute work form Iain Jennings and Anne-Marie Helder respectively and the track ends with stunning guitar work by Mr Josh.
Hold the Sun
Such a clever number managing to combine both sadness and happiness in a tale of loss but also full of the joy and gift of life. The track begins with gentle delicate keyboards, the guitar and bass jump in for the dramatic verses in real contrast to the joy and lightness of the chorus, this change of mood gives the track real power.
And When The War Is Over...
To end the album another beautiful piece of music with its lyrics of joy and celebration at the end of war and conflict and a track that would be perfect for dancing a good old fashioned waltz to, includes plenty of subtle keyboards, guitar work and a special mention for the delicate drum work of Gavin Griffiths. A great choice for the closing number ending the album on a real positive joyful note.
A triumphant stylish album by a band that never disappoints, full of the usual MA light and shade, thought provoking lyrics, the top rate musicianship we have come to expect and a good mixture of musical styles, pounding rockers, beautiful ballads and epic numbers all with that Mostly Autumn special touch. For me this is an album up their with my favourite releases by the band Passengers and The Last Bright Light and as the fans expected Olivia has handled the extremely difficult job of replacing Heather Findlay in some style.
Review by Andrew Lock
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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty
damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly
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