Guitarist Bryan Josh forms together with singer Heather Findlay the nucleus of Mostly Autumn, one of my favourite bands. I saw the band in York just before they performed their first concert in The Netherlands at Progfarm 2000. During the previous decade, I saw them on stage during all Dutch tours, but the band is still able to surprise me.
On his first solo album Through These Eyes, Brian Josh asked Olivia Sparnenn (Breathing Space, Mostly Autumn) for the background vocals and Gavin Griffiths (Fish, Karnataka) for playing the drums. Bryan Josh himself played all the other instruments like guitars, bass guitar, keyboards and of course, he did the lead vocals. The first track Merry She Goes is an instrumental. The keyboards and the guitar sound like a track from Nude, the highly acclaimed album from Camel. Land Of Gods is an up-tempo and cheerful song that ends with a nice guitar solo. The Appian Way is an optimistic rock song with a marching rhythm. This song appears a second time in the end, but than as a radio-edited version. We Grace starts like a Bruce Springsteen-song from the Tunnel Of Love-era. When you read the lyrics in the booklet, it looks as if Bryan wrote this one for the cows of Yorkshire! As always, he expresses his love for Mother Nature. Black Stone begins kind of bluesy, but soon turns into a rock song, with good backing vocals from Olivia and the typical guitar sound of Bryan in the end. Slow Down starts as a very simple song, but after two minutes, the guitar and Olivia take over and change the rhythm of this track into a real rock song. The title track is the maverick on this album. Bryan talks and sings like Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) telling Christmas stories of Charles Dickens, Bing Crosby, Adolf Hitler (?), Julius Caesar (?) and Lee van Cleef! Besides he introduces his favourite band comprising of guitarist Jimi Hendrix, drummer John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), bass player John Entwhistle (Who) and singer Freddy Mercury (Queen). This song is a fine example of the typical English humour. Into Your Arms is a bluesy ballad and one of my favourite tracks because of the fine guitar solo. Old Friends is a distinctive Mostly Autumn piano-driven ballad. Olivia sings similar to Heather Findlay here. Not A Dream, the longest track on the album, reminds me of a solo track from David Gilmour. It starts as a ballad and ends with a beautiful two minutes long guitar solo. Going Home is another up-tempo rock song with an easy chorus that has been greatly influenced by Pink Floyd. The final track Carry Me is a ballad emotionally sung by Olivia and accompanied by acoustic guitars and piano.
The first solo album of Bryan Josh is a pleasant one that surprised me in several respects. There is a fine balance between ballads and up-tempo rock songs on Through These Eyes. Bryan delivers some outstanding guitar solos that lift the album to a higher level. Well done!
**** Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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