(01 December 2001) Based in York and written more closely to this way -- Gă’bri•el -- this Yorkshire based alternative progressive band is led by Marc Atkinson. The band's debut album Ascension is a tremdously well-produced 12-track collection.
Mostly Autumn (review) enthusiasts will be pleased to know that Brian Josh, Heather Findlay, Angela Goldthorpe, Iain Jennings and Liam Davison contribute to the recording. Marc Atkinson, Gina Dootson (review) and Rachel Jones (Karnataka, review) provide backing vocals on Mostly Autumn The Story So Far DVD and accompanying live album.
With that said, Ascension is an album of fine music by a band that has found their foothold in the classic rock arena; reviews of their performance at Rotherham Rocks in October 2001 were outstanding. Rightfully so, the band blends 70s-style sensibility with modern arrangements and heartfelt lyrics. Greatly sensitive male vocals dominate the lightly rocking arrangements; Heather Findlay clearly contributes backing harmonies along with Janine Atkinson, and Ruth Hodge.
Gabriel's sound is largely derived from Marc Atkinson's dramatically sung lead vocal parts and Rob Swann's lush keyboards. Acoustic guitar, electric guitars, bass and percussion perfectly compliment the overall sound--and the backing work is superb. Ascension combines upbeat, lightly rocking numbers with heartfelt ballads; guitar and keyboard excursions demonstrate the artists' virtuousity, complimenting rathern than detracting from the material. It is easy to see why the band have so quickly become a Classic Rock Society favourite.
Standout tracks include the upbeat, keyboard-laced and even radio friendly "More Than You Know," the crisp rocking opening tune "Stay With Me" and the wonderful rocker "All Of My Life" with their lush vocal harmonies. We especially enjoyed the lush instrumental--wonderful keyboard part--and vocal blend of the rocking "Cry For Me."
The album's ballads ("The Closest Thing," "Faith & Betrayal," "Mother Love," "Fragile," "Here I Am") are sung and produced quite well. The tracks that bridge upbeat with ballad are especially enjoyable--instrumental bridges, including Angela Goldthorpe's flute passages, demonstrate the depth of the recording. The modern sound of "I Wanna Be With You" clearly illustrates that Gabriel are not trapped in the past. The light rocker "Always Remember (Who You Are)" that closes the album leaves the listener longing for more.
Although dominated by male vocals, this is clearly one of the best new albums we've heard this year, and one worthy of further exploration. Click on the album cover to visit the band's website for further biographical information and reviews; order the album directly from the band there. Take a trans-Atlantic journey; this one is a must listen!