Yes ... Sean Filkens ... made one of the best progressive rock albums of the year 2011. Maybe some of you don't know the name Sean Filkens but he is the former vocalist of the band Big Big Train, this must ring a bell. The album is called “War and Peace & Other Short Stories” and is mastered by Karl groom at Thin Ice studios. It is an album full of overwhelming progressive symphonic rock with a typical British neo-prog atmosphere.
Lee Abraham - acoustic and electric rhythm guitars, lead guitar, bass, keyboards, backing vocals; Rob Arnold - keyboards, piano; Alistair Begg - fretless bass; Marc Clayton - tabla; Sean Filkens - lead and backing vocals, percussion, didgeridoo, keyboards, garima, sitar, blues harp, line6variax guitar; Christopher James Harrison - lead and rhythm guitar, John Mitchell - lead guitar; Gerald Mulligan - drums; Simon Nixon - flamenco guitar; Darren Newitt - lead guitar; Ben Rouse - mandolin; John Sammes - keyboards, maelstrom, sequencer programming; Helen Tudor - flute; Abigail Filkens - vocals; Daisy Sammes - sirens voice;Geoff Webb - acoustic guitar, keyboards
After the intro “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” full of British humor (tea produced by Sean Filkens) the album opens with the track “The English Eccentric” (8:46). After an instrumental section with fat synth solo's and great drums and bass parts you hear for the first time the fine voice of Sean which is singing beautiful vocal lines. The track has a great diversity and includes besides the overwhelming sympho parts and beautiful vocal lines also several intimate parts with acoustic guitars and percussion. It is a great opener. Then follows one of the longer tracks of the album, “Prisoner Of Conscience Part 1 - The Soldier” (19:21). The first instrumental part has some Indian influences. You can hear instruments like sitar and tabla. Later on you can also hear some Folk (mandolin) and Spanish influences. Slowly the music becomes more powerful and intense. It includes some heavy sections with nice keyboard and guitar solos. I like the beautiful classical keyboard orchestrations and melodic vocal refrains. It is again a piece of music with great diversity. Sean Filkens shows on this track that he is a great singer. In the end you can enjoy a beautiful and intense guitar solo. The music seamless goes into “Prisoner Of Conscience Part 2 - The Ordinary Man” (11:02). This part has beautiful melodic vocal lines, delicate keyboard parts and beautiful melodic guitar solos. The music on “War and Peace & Other Short Stories” is often impressive and overwhelming. The next long track is called “Epitaph For A Mariner” (20:50). This track is for me the highlight of the album. The instrumental parts are sometimes breathtaking ... you can hear the most beautiful melodies and musical atmospheres. Slowly the intensity of the music is building up towards a climax. In the second part of this composition you can hear the most beautiful vocal lines of this album. After such an intimate moment the tension of the music is again slowly building up towards the next instrumental climax. The song ends with a beautiful and delicate piano part. Only for this composition you have to buy this wonderful album. The last track of the album is called “Learn How To Learn” (7:27). This track includes original acoustic music (“Pastoral”) written by Geoff Webb. This delicate song is a worthy ending of this remarkable debut album of Sean Filkings.
Sean Filkens ... made together with his musical friends one of the best progressive rock albums of the year 2011. You can find the most beautiful vocal melodies and keyboard orchestrations on this album. Delicate moments and intense symphonic sections with great guitar and keyboard solo's gives the album the needed diversity. In overall the music is overwhelming. If you give this album several spins, the album reveals his true beauty. “War and Peace & Other Short Stories” is an impressive debut album of a great vocalist/musician.