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(63:57: Mark Rowen)
‘Radiance’ the debut solo album from Mark Rowen, who previously was guitarist in Mostly Autumn offshoot Breathing Space. In some ways it is hard to think of this as a solo album, just because it isn’t! This is very much a band release, and it is of little surprise that two of his old colleagues from Breathing Space (bassist Paul Teasdale and drummer Barry Cassells) are also involved. Keyboards are care of multi-instrumentalist Leigh Perkins while there are also a few guests adding additional elements, including Guy Manning, Rob Cottingham (Touchstone, Cairo) and Moray MacDonald (Godsticks, Ghost Community etc.). Then at the forefront of all this is Lisa Box. According to the press release she is normally a Specialist Cardiology Physiologist for the NHS, and Mark came across her while looking through YouTube one night and saw her fronting a rock covers band, and she is some find. The result of this is an incredibly polished rock album, which moves between good old fashioned neo prog and classic rock, refusing pointedly to stick to any one genre. It is a songs-based album, one where the listener can really enjoy the fun and singalong. There is notably one where that doesn’t happen, namely “On The Blue Horizon”. I don’t think I have managed to listen to this album yet without repeating this at least once. Gently picked acoustic guitar, vocals with reverb, and near the end some keyboards make a gentle introduction without spoiling the mood of two people sat on stools watching each other as they perform one of the most delicate and bloody gorgeous songs I have come across in some time. It is faultless in performance, structure and production, never rushed and sheer magic. I honestly feel transported each time I play this, and it is just as well as that “The Reason Why” has a jagged keyboard beginning or I would never come back down to earth. Polished, this doesn’t try to stick to any particular genre, but rather is a perfect marriage of accompaniment and wonderful vocals in an English rock-based album of songs. This has been made available through Bandcamp, which is just as well as I think Mark is running out of CDs, so you had better get in fast. Well worth investigating indeed.
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