After hearing the first two songs on this release, I was afraid that Mostly Autumn’s exceptional promise had run its course. The songs were, in fact, the worst on an otherwise powerful and beautiful album.
Mostly Autumn produce a folk-tinged form of progressive rock, borrowing a lot of elements from Pink Floyd and some latter Neo-Prog bands, they delivered four exceptional studio albums that had flaws, but many strengths as well. With “Passengers”, they have matured and delivered their best work to date.
The band is built around the female vocals of Heather Findlay. Bryan Josh, who plays Lead Guitars and 6/12 String Acoustic Guitars, also sings. Their harmonies together are most effective. The band also consists of Angela Goldthorpe who plays flute and Recorders and sings harmonies. There’s Iain Jennings on Piano, Hammond Organ, Synthesisers, and also Backing Vocals; Liam Davison on Electric/Acoustic Guitars, Slide Guitar; Andy Smith on Bass Guitar and Jonathan Blackmore handles Drums.
Mostly Autumn shines as an accessible form of folk prog, highly melodic, yet energetic and adventurous enough to be considered progressive. The consistent use of flute and violin add dimension to the music and, on this release, there are hints of Celtic influences.
From tracks 3 and onward, “Passengers” never loses it’s power. “Bitterness Burnt” starts off as a gentle pastoral folk song and slowly builds, counter-pointing the gentle folk elements of “Another Life”, the previous song.
“Caught in a Fold” is a rocker, with chunky riffs and steady rhythm. The use of Hammond here is also a reminder of the 70s hard rock influences also embroidered in Mostly Autumn’s repertoire. “Simple Ways” and “Passengers” are also brilliant tracks that build to powerful climaxes in a classic prog tradition. “Another question” also starts softly, then erupts into a blazing, rock anthem that incorporates the rock elements that underline the band’s abilities and bring them into cohesion with the gentler folk influences.
The 3 part “Pass the Clock” is highlighted by the rousing middle track, complete with savage violin that is reminiscent of Curved Air’s halcyon days. The energy of part 3 provides a perfect ending to a near perfect 61 minutes of music.
“Passengers” is a great CD from one of England’s great prog hopes. Though more mainstream than prog purists may prefer, it will help find new fans who will otherwise never likely succumb to prog rocks more melodic aspects. I support this band and its fine music and I hope it wins Progressive Rock a new generation of fans.