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Review: 'Mostly Autumn'
'Graveyard Star'   

-  Label: 'Mostly Autumn Records'
-  Genre: 'Rock' -  Release Date: '24th September 2021'

Our Rating:
It’s only halfway through August, but the heatwave that was forecast has been unforecast, and drawing the curtains this morning, the view outside the window appeared to be that of mostly Autumn. And so having received the new album by the fiercely independent York-based but internationally-renowned rock act Mostly Autumn just the other day, it felt appropriate to stay inside, stay dry, and give it a listen.

‘Graveyard Star’, their fourteenth studio album, most definitely indulges their proggier leanings, with half of the tracks extending beyond the six-minute mark, with a brace of twelve-minuters looming like monoliths. From the multi-faceted opener, ‘Back in these Arms’ that switches between numerous segments via the expansive, atmospheric title track to the brooding balladry of ‘Razor Blade’ and the blistering slow-build of ‘This Endless War’ that really hits the stratosphere for epic guitar solo work, the band explore a lot of ground. While it’s very much a rock album in terms of arrangements and instrumentation, even when they go acoustic – there are subtle electronic augmentations, not to mention some sweeping strings and a lot of layers that really emphasis the dynamics and accentuate the range of moods.

‘Skin of Mankind’ and ‘Spirit of Mankind’ provide contrasting and complimentary angles, the former starting country and stretching out into epic folk, while the latter is more 80s rock in its stylings, and Olivia Sparnenn is a vocalist with real range: she can do delicate, emotive, but can really belt it out, too, all while maintaining a keen sense of melody. Colossal closer ‘Turn Around Slowly’ revisits the lyrics of ‘Skin of Mankind’ while surging toward the immense, theatrical climax the album deserves.

A collective working though the emotional and psychological challenges of the last year and a half, (as is nowhere more evident than on ‘The Plague Bell’) ‘Graveyard Star’ has perhaps benefited from the change of pace for the band, who have spent the majority of their twenty-five year career engaged in almost constant touring (it’s telling that, if you include DVDs, they’ve actually released more live albums than studio works)

In terms of musicianship, ‘Graveyard Star’ is impressive – not just because it’s so well-played, but because of the way each of the musicians plays off the others, there’s a respectful restraint displayed by each, giving the songs a sense of balance. Appearances by Troy Donockley of Nightwish and Chris Leslie of Fairport Convention only add to the album’s sparkle.

  author: Christopher Nosnibor

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