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The Last Bright Light
Image © 2001 Cyclops 

(updated 15 July 2001) The third album from the York-based Celtic-progressive crossover band Mostly Autumn is entitled The Last Bright Light (Cyclops (UK) CYCL 100, 2001). The album significantly develops the band's progressive sound especially when compared to the Celtic flavours of their first two ablums (review). Although once again the vocals are dominated by Bryan Josh, Heather Findlay--winner of the 1999 Classic Rock Society coveted Best Female Vocalist Award--sings lead on two of the album's tracks. Mostly Autumn and Karnataka (review) will headline together at the HLC Rotherham in a CRS gig on 12 May 2001 (review.

Mostly Autumn is Bryan Josh (guitars, vocals), Heather Findlay (lead and background vocals, bodhran, tambourine, bells), Iain Jennings (keyboards, synthesizers, hammond organ, backing vocals), Liam Davison (guitars, vocals), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorders, backing vocals), Andy Smith (bass) and Jonathan Blackmore (drums). A variety of guest artists, including Troy Donockley (Iona), have contributed to the album. The lineup is currently touring extensively.

Mostly Autumn's development is immediately recognisable in the moody REM-like track "We Come And We Go" sung by Bryan Josh. Lush arrangements with lead guitar supported by Hammond organ in the chorus have tremendous depth. The first standout track of the album is "The Dark Before The Dawn," a dynamic rocker with thick guitar, Hammond organ and Pink Floyd-style vocals blending to create a progressive masterwork. The contrast between the progressive verse and Celtic style chorus--dominated by flute--works extremely well.

The album's ballads are sung alternatively by Bryan Josh and Heather Findlay. The arrangements in "Half The Mountain" develop symphonically with keyboards and flute carrying the instrumental bridge. Heather sings the gentle tune "The Eyes Of The Forest." Light guitars underscore a sweet and sensually sung vocal lines whilst a flute melody dominates the instrumental passages between them on the former. Heather also sings "Hollow," a gentle ballad supported by light guitar and keyboard. Her vocal line soars well above the instrumentals illustrating the range and power that won her the CRS award as their Best Female Vocalist in 1999.

Bryan Josh sings the title track, a lovely ballad--supported primarily by deep orchestral keyboards, a male choir and light guitar--that develops into a progressive rocker backed by Hammond organ and guitar. "Helms Deep" is an Iona-progressive-styled Celtic instrumental featuring Troy Donockley's low whistle melody that, aside from the Hammond organ solo and electric guitar riffs, harkens the listener back to the sound of the band's prior albums. The Celtic flute melody of "Which Wood?" perfectly compliments the instrumental that precedes it.

"Never The Rainbow" is the second standout track of the album. An upbeat progressive rocker written by Iain Jennings and Heather Findlay and featuring her soaring and evocatively sung lead, the track draws the listener in further with every chorus. It must be fantastic to hear performed in a live setting. The low whistle part by Troy Donockley in "Prints In The Stone" is especially enjoyable and compliments Bryan Josh's lead and Heather Findlay's backing vocal quite well. The progressive epic "Shrinking Violet," sweetly sung by Heather builds dramatically in its conclusion. The concluding progressive epic--"Mother Nature"--begins gently with a light acoustic-oriented ballad sung by Bryan and Heather as a duet. Thickening instrumental and vocal arrangements and lovely instrumental solos highlight the members' virtuousity as the track to a close.

Whilst the soundbites on the band's website have not been updated to include excerpts from the new album, you'll find a suitable introduction to the band, biography and tour information online. Mostly Autumn's latest album is available from many retail and online outlets and is certainly one to be explored further. Worth a trans-Atlantic journey we're certain that you'll agree The Last Bright Light is a must listen!

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