The St. Ives-based Symphonic Progressivesive Rock Quartet formed in Edinburgh by Tree Stewart (Keys/Flute/Acoustic Guitar/Vocals) and Ally Carter (Guitar/Sax/Keys/Vocals) return with their 4th album the follow up to 2019’s Nocturne. As with the previous project the founder members are once again joined by David Greenaway on Bass and Tom Jackson on Drums. Continuing with the grand reference points of Nocturne’s final track ‘The Child Within’ these 3 tracks come in at a little under 49 minutes (with the shortest track at just over 11 minutes) putting the emphasis on the progressive and leaving the main symphonic moods until half way through the final track, ‘The Ascent’.
Opener ‘The Awakening’ leads off in a far less guitar focused place than it’s predecessor’s final track with deep keys interlaced with piano before the percussion begins to build into the vocal section. This is The Emerald Dawn in Jazz shuffle mode until Ally Carter pushes things onward and upwards with his chunky guitar riff building to introduce the whole band in full flight for the first of To Touch The Sky’s mini epics before everything returns to piano, guitar and Tree’s soft vocalization to bring track one to a close.
A sound reminiscent of a heartbeat and acoustic guitar lead into ‘And I Stood Transfixed’ which gives it a (dare I say) Floyd feel. This is even more obvious when strummed acoustic guitar is joined by saxophone before the vocals arrive to take us to a much more relaxing place with Tree’s voice softly escorting the bass line until being replaced by her flute. Certainly not a band who are afraid of mood changes midway through this track transforms briefly into a colossus before returning to a more serene pace and as it draws to it’s close via one of Ally Carter’s total control guitar solos and finally returning to the heartbeat.
Once again starting off with a calm introduction, this time of piano and flute, final track, ‘The Ascent’ will make any fan of early-era Karnataka feel totally at home within the space it occupies. Not only by the way the keyboard give the track an overall sense of journey but by the ethereal nature of the vocals. Mood aplenty is once again in evidence as the music travels from passage to passage within this 20 minute plus movement.
Being new to the work of The Emerald Dawn, I think this is probably a good place to start especially for those with a liking for quality over quantity. Through my eyes (& ears) this new release sees them firmly at the melodic end of the symphonic progressive camp. Give it a listen and see what adjective you come up with.
- Review By Peter Brockwell
- Released through Ostara on 20 March 2021 (Pre Order Available from 5 March)
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- The Awakening
- And I Stood Transfixed
- The Ascent