Review: Mostly Autumn – Graveyard Star
Self Release (September 24th 2021)
Reviewer: Chris O’Connor
Mostly Autumn’s music is consistently graceful, timeless, epic, grandiose, they are a truly uniquely wonderful band. It’s now been over a decade since Olivia Sparnenn took on the mantle of frontperson for the band, and she and her husband Bryan Josh have continued in their musical mission to keep the good ship Mostly Autumn moving in the correct direction.
The band has managed to keep a steady roster too, with Iain Jennings (keyboards/backing vocals), Angela Gordon (flutes/keyboards/recorders/whistles/percussion/backing vocals), Andy Smith (bass), and Chris Johnson (guitars/keyboards/vocals) all being long serving members. Only drummer Henry Rogers is comparatively new to the ranks, having been present since 2018.
So, we come to ‘Graveyard Star’ their fourteenth studio outing, and just as you would know to expect, the band are in magnificent form. Continuing the concepts revolving around death explored on ‘Dressed In Voices’ and ‘White Rainbow’, this album is thematically based around the ongoing Coronavirus horror and lockdown, and the implications that are still affecting us all. It’s not all sadness and loss though, it’s also ‘rebirth’ and (I cannot believe I’m saying this … ‘a new hope’ (yes, a nerdy Star Wars reference).
In the past MA have had the venerable Troy Donockley guesting on various instruments, this time around, a special guest appearance is made by Chris Leslie (yes of Fairport Convention fame) whose delicate violin work adds gravitas to the truly epic title track – which also just happens to open the album. As with previous albums, Bryan’s studied and elegant guitar work will inevitably ensure that MA’s music draws comparisons to Pink Floyd – now given that Floyd no longer exists, that really is no bad thing in my eyes.
Vocals (of course) are shared between Bryan and Olivia – whose contrasting styles work beautifully either solely or especially combined, it has always been a MA trademark, and remains perfect in 2021. The songs throughout are beautifully balanced ebbing and flowing as the album winds along – exploring moods and emotions. Listen to the likes of the emotive ‘Razor Blade’ with its gentle beginning that swells to a powerful crescendo as the song ends, or the punchy ‘Back In These Arms’ that pulses along forcefully, a truly classic MA song in every respect.
This is a truly remarkable album both musically and lyrically, and as the album draws to its inevitable close, the sadness and pain begin to fade away. The album began with an epic number and as it should – it also ends with one. The powerfully emotive ‘Turn Around Slowly’ is a stunning coda and leaves you feeling reinvigorated. This album is a true Tour De Force in every way that matters. Mostly Autumn … still simply marvellous!