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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Mostly Autumn

The Story So Far

Review by Steve Alspach

Autumn, in its glory, is a magnificent palette of colors - reds, yellows, oranges, and browns. Mostly Autumn is a band that also combines different tastes to a single, cohesive whole, combining touches of progressive, gothic, Celtic, and radio-ready tunes into a strong rock mix that would appeal fans of bands such as October Project. Mostly Autumn released a live CD last year and showed that they are a top notch band live. (Although, for those of us who go over CD notes with a fine-toothed comb, songwriting credits would have been nice. No need to be shy, people, these are some good songs!)

The personnel on this album are: Mostly Autumn (Bryan Josh, lead guitar and vocals; Heather Findlay, vocals, guitar, bodhran, tambourine, and recorder; Iain Jennings, keyboards; Liam Davison, guitar; Angela Goldthorpe, flute, recorders, vocals; Andy Smith, bass; and Jonathan Blackmore, drums); Rachel Jones, Mark Atkinson, and Gina Dootson; backing vocals.

Track by Track Review
Porcupine Rain
A catchy, Yes-like guitar riff opens the song. Porcupine Rain then goes into a 6/4 mode with Josh and Findlay combining on a haunting, descending melody. This is a good set-opener.
Nowhere To Hide
Segueing straight from Porcupine Rain, this is a head-on rocker with little in the way of tricks.
Evergreen
Findlay takes the lead vocal accompanied only by guitar and a distant synthesizer. The song remains subdued for the first four minutes or so, then the rest of the band comes in on this slow rocker. The group can't resist kicking in to double time towards the end.
The Spirit of Autumn Past
This song flips between jazz-influenced chording on the verses and straight rock in the chorus. Here we get to hear the keyboards and flute more in the mix.
Heroes Never Die
The arrangement is similar to Evergreen - start quiet, end with a bang. The prelude is flute and guitar, and Josh and Findlay harmonizing well. The song builds patiently, though. Josh gets a lengthy solo towards the end, though he stays quite restrained throughout.
The Night Before
There's a pattern here - a quiet opening, this time with voices and keyboard, a recorder solo after the second verse giving the song a Celtic feel. The second half of this eight-minute piece is instrumental, Josh soloing over the verse structure.
Dark Before the Dawn
This is one of their harder rockers on the album, with recorders during the chorus making the band sound like Capercaillie letting its hair down.
Shrinking Violet
Heather Findlay proves her worth on this selection, perhaps the most delicate on the album. Although the arrangement starts quiet and builds, Findlay is allowed to stay in the forefront, even if she and the backing vocalists are doing nothing more than la-la-las.
Never The Rainbow
The fastest rocker on the album, Findlay takes the lead to show that she can handle a strong band behind her. She and the backing vocalists make for good, though not over-the-top, harmonies. Josh cuts loose with a fiery solo to finish out the song.
Mother Nature
The band closes with this thirteen-minute tour-de-force that shows several nods to Renaissance. A semi-acoustic guitar and piano start the song, and this opening movement, with Josh and Findlay's delicate vocals, is quite well done over its 3 and a half minutes before the band jumps in with both feet - no gradual building up here. The group plays with some odd time signatures for a bit (sounding a little like a 4-5-6 pattern). The piece slows down a bit, and the arrangement for once quiets down as Josh gets some melodic-yet-bluesy soloing. The end section with its extended jam sounds a bit like "Ashes Are Burning."
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