introUnder the name Willowglass Yorkshire (England) based Andrew Marshall released his debut project CD. He has played in various local groups over the last 20 years, but this is his first solo independent release. Inspired by numerous symphonic/progressive rock artists since the 60's/70's right through today, this first album contains ten instrumental tracks that were recorded between September 2004 and April 2005.
The first thing I noticed is the beautiful CD cover. It is made by an illustrator which has a very recognizable style. The illustrators name is Lee Gaskins. Remember that name. Some people will remember the artwork Lee Gaskins made for the “Pilgrimage” album of Pilgrym.
Artwork by Lee Gaskins
The album opens with a short piano based track entitled “Peace” (1.26) that sets the typical English atmosphere of the album. The sound of the keyboard solo in “Remembering” (8:34) brings back memories of Anthony Phillips album “1984”. A little homage to this underrated musician. But the track also have delicate electric guitar parts. The atmosphere is typical English. The track ends with beautiful Mellotron strings and flute. When this is combined with delicate acoustic guitars in the next track “Garden” (8:15) you will think you are still living in the 70's when an unknown group Genesis was making such music. But Willowglass is not a copycat, the album is completely instrumental and has a mellow character. “Interlude No. 1” (1:36) is a beautiful classical guitar piece in the vein of Steve Hackett. Next is “Tower of the king's daughter” (7:10) which opens with a nice melody with broad string sounds. Just as you think that this is a very mellow album Andrew Marshall puts in a nice fat synth solo. This piece develops into a powerful symphonic track which ends in a climax. The Mellotron in “Summer's lease” (0:18) opens for the next track “Into the chase” (4:29). Another good symphonic track with some nice melodies. Talking about nice melodies, in “A blinding light” (6:36) you can float away again on your memories of the 70's. There are some references of Camel in this track. Not only in the guitar part in the ending, but also in a keyboard part which did me think of the early Camel period, when I did see the band on their “Moonmadness” tour. A nice ode to Peter Bardens ... we miss him. Before the bass ends this album with “The end” (1:46) we can listen to “Waking the angels” (5:45). Like in “Remembering” I hear some influences of the keyboard sounds Anthony Phillips used on his “1984” album. And in a guitar part Andy Latimer is back. But everything is done with great delicacy. I see it as an ode to the spirit of the 70's.
Andrew Marshall's project Willowglass is a window to that great symphonic period in the 70's. The music on this album has a mellow character and is very English. It has the same spirit as the album “Au-delà des ombres” from the Canadian project Ere G from Robin Gaudreault. Also an album with loads of Mellotron sounds. With Willowglass Andrew Marshall has made a diverse debut album with beautiful melodies. People who like the early period of bands like Genesis, Anthony Phillips and Camel, love a lot of keyboards in their prog and/or like the mellow side of symphonic rock in general, must try this album.