In July last year I wrote the following conclusion of Big Big Train's EP “Wassail”;
“What a great piece of music! Big Big Train is one of Britain's finest progressive rock bands. Their English pastoral style is unique and if you like rich arrangements, vocal harmonies and a great mix of electric and acoustic instruments in your Prog, this one is for you. I only can give this EP the full points and therefore it is highly recommended to you by progVisions.”
Now a year later, the band comes with the new CD “Folklore”. A beautifully designed digipak with a great illustrations and photo's. The band has grown into an eight piece ensemble and is assisted on this remarkable album by a horn and string section.
Nick D'Virgilio - drums, percussion and backing vocals; Dave Gregory - guitars; Rachel Hall - violin, viola, cello and backing vocals; David Longdon - lead and backing vocals, flute, acoustic guitar, mandolin and percussion; Danny Manners - keyboards and double bass; Andy Poole - acoustic guitar, mandolin, keyboards and backing vocals, Rikard Sjoblom - guitars, keyboards, accordion and backing vocals, Greg Spawton - bass guitar, bass pedals, acoustic guitar and backing vocals
Dave Desmond - trombone; Ben Godfrey - trumpet and cornet; Nick Stones - French horn; John Storey - euphonium; Jon Truscott - tuba; Lucy Curnow - violin; Keith Hobday - viola; Evie Anderson - cello
The album opens with the title track “Folklore”, after a classical opening this song develops into a happy sounding track with very catchy vocal refrains, nice opener. But in the second track “London Plane” the band are showing their possibilities to the fullest. What a great song with an amazing arrangement and vocal harmonies. The first and third part are very relaxed with great vocal harmonies and string arrangements. The second part is more up tempo and you can enjoy great instrumental parts. Well I think I could stop this review right now; You just have to buy this wonderful album!
“Along The Ridgeway” is a beautiful sung ballad in which the horn and string ensemble is nicely integrated into the music. The short piece “Salisbury Giant” has some great Hammond organ parts which reminds me of early Genesis (Foxtrot period). This is combined with melodic string arrangements. It's just a lovely piece. Next is “The Transit Of Venus Across The Sun” that opens with a horn section and a beautiful violin melody. In the typical English pastoral style of Big Big Train. The vocal parts of David Longdon are often breathtaking .... But this counts for the whole album. A delicious and relaxed song with the most beautiful melodies. After“ London Plane” this is the second highlight of the album.
After the EP track “Wassail” which I reviewed last year follows “Winkie”, a song about a pigeon who was a messenger in Word War II. It's a diverse piece of music with nice flute, violin, guitar and keyboard parts. The longest track of the album is called “Brooklands”. The long tracks of the album are just amazing. There is so much happening, all that great vocal harmonies and instrumental parts. The music is working towards a climax with great drum work by Nick D'Virgilio but the overall atmosphere of the album is relaxed and I love to listen to it after a hectic working day.
After this third highlight the album closes with the song “Telling The Bees”. The organ parts are reminding me of the band The Faces (period ”As not as good ... as a wink to a blind horse”). But that is just a lovely link to the past for me. My interest in rock music started with that album with that amazing title. After that album I discovered another band from England ... Genesis ... But that is another story :-) “Telling The Bees” is a nice song to end this remarkable album. The vocal melodies are great ... But now I will repeat myself ...
With “Folklore” Big Big Train is pushing the boundaries even further. What a great album full of great music in that typical Big Big Train English pastoral style. “Folklore” is the best album so far. Again the full points for this amazing band. And if you want to see the band live in action, I also would like to highly recommend their BluRay DVD “Stone & Steel”, that was also released this year, to all the readers of my progVisions reviews. Enjoy!