Mostly Autumn

TrackAlbum
EvergreenThat Night In Leamington
Bitterness BurntPassengers
Pass The Clock (Parts 1-3)Passengers
Yellow TimeHeart Full Of Sky
And When The War Is OverGo Well Diamond Heart
Unoriginal SinGlass Shadows
ShindigThe Fiddler’'s Shindig
LothlorienMusic Inspired By The Lord Of The Rings
Until The Story EndsGlass Shadows
Heroes Never DieFor All We Shared

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Contributor: Ian Ashleigh

I first became aware of Mostly Autumn via Progarchives.com and a review of For All We Shared. I was intrigued by the moniker and description, ‘prog-folk’, the review itself inspired me to seek out the CD and from there the rest of the catalogue.

Mostly Autumn were formed, I believe in Yorkshire, in 1996 by multi-instrumentalist Bryan Josh with vocalist Heidi Widdop, Iain Jennings on keyboards and backing vocals, Liam Davison on guitars and backing vocals, Stuart Carver bass guitars, Bob Faulds violins, Kev Gibbons on whistles and Allan Scott on drums. By the time Mostly Autumn released their first album, For All We Shared, in 1998, Heidi Widdop had been replaced by Heather Findlay and this set the tone for a fluid band line-up, sharing members with the bands, Breathing Space and Panic Room.

Early influences are cited as groups such as Genesis, Renaissance and Pink Floyd, and also folk music. Other influences can be heard in later albums, for example All About Eve on the track Softer Than Brown which had to miss the Toppermost cut.

To my knowledge, Mostly Autumn have never had a major record deal; instead, they have their own independent record label and choose to finance each album release themselves, recouping the costs by releasing an initial special edition before then issuing the album via retail outlets, their own website and their gigs. This has not hindered a steady output of real quality. A by-product of this is a plethora of live albums that show how some songs evolve and how some stay broadly the same.

I’ve tried to put the tracks in an order that would fit a 10 track compilation and having listened to the selection end-to-end a couple of times, I believe that I have succeeded, as well as giving a flavour of the breadth and depth of the band.

And so to the music …

Although Josh is the lead songwriter, the selection opens with Evergreen co-written by Heather Findlay who was a member from 1996 to 2010, when she left to pursue solo projects. Her last gig with the band was captured on That Night in Leamington and although originally the track featured on the second album in 1999, The Spirit Of Autumn Past and is on all of the live albums, there is a quality about this ‘goodbye’ from Findlay that is evident in her vocal and is the reason for its inclusion here.

Bitterness Burnt is another Heather Findlay composition and has an ethereal pop quality about it with the lead flute and acoustic arrangement.

From the same album, Pass The Clock, written by Bryan Josh, is in three parts. It is a summary of Mostly Autumn in approximately 12 minutes.

Yellow Time is another Findlay penned song and has the feel of Joni Mitchell about it both lyrically and in the arrangement.

Go Well Diamond Heart was the first album release without Heather Findlay. Olivia Sparnenn had been a backing vocalist and brought other vocal qualities to the lead. She co-wrote And When The War is Over with Josh. It has a different feel about it to its predecessors. This doesn’t make it a bad album but new influences are coming in; the Rachmaninoff-esque intro to this song being a case in point.

We return to Heather Findlay for Unoriginal Sin, both vocally and as the writer. This is a rock driven song of heartbreak.

Mostly Autumn released the live album The Fiddler’s Shindig as a CD in 2003 and Shindig is a classic folk-rock set of dance tunes as only this band could do them. Simply great fun.

It is a brave band that tries to summarise Tolkien’s epic into 51 minutes of music and the key is in the full title of the album, Music Inspired By The Lord Of The Rings. Lothlorien is a gentle respite following the energy of Shindig.

Another gentle acoustic led track from the Glass Shadows album is Until The Story Ends which borrows the guitar motif from Pink Floyd’s Dogs. Indeed, in 2004, Mostly Autumn released a DVD of a show comprising entirely of Floyd covers; Pink Floyd Revisited was a one-off concert at the Civic Hall, Stratford-upon-Avon. Issued as a limited edition DVD it is sought after and rare to find.

Back to the first album, For All We Shared, Bryan Josh had lost his father and while the whole album speaks of loss and memory, Heroes Never Die is specifically dedicated to Robert Josh. At gigs, the video above the band features Josh’s musical heroes and ends with a picture of his father. When I lost my own father in November 2012 the lyric hit home, particularly with its reference to that month. The potency and passion in the guitar solo that makes up most of the final four minutes of the song is one of the most powerful and meaningful I have ever heard, and I cannot hear the song without thinking of my Dad because heroes never die.

Mostly Autumn official site

Mostly Autumn biography (iTunes)

TopperPost #108

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