For many years Mostly Autumn's second guitar player Liam Davison was an underrated musician playing in the shadow of leader Bryan Josh. However, last year we received the news that Davison would step out of his shadow to record his first solo album in order to display the talents he could hardly show in Mostly Autumn (MA). On occasion Davison got a solo spot during a live performance of MA and sometimes he wrote a song for the band, but for the rest he had to be content with an unpretentious position in the band. Maybe that was the reason that he quit a couple of years ago. However, very soon after he had left he returned to join MA again both on stage and in the recording studios. It was here that he met producer John Spence, who was willing to produce Davison's debut album that was originally scheduled to be released on October 26, 2010. Since that press release a lot of additional work had to be done, but other musicians joined him to create a special record.
Early 2011, I found a copy of A Treasure Of Well-Set Jewels in my mailbox. After a couple of listening sessions it became obvious that Liam Davison indeed had created a special album. The eight tracks on the album were certainly worth-while listening. It's true that the influences of MA are evident on several tracks, mainly due to the fact that Davison lent the voice of Heather Findlay, the former female singer of MA. She contributed on Picture Postcard and Once In A Lifetime. The latter she even co-wrote with Davison and the great string arrangements make it one of the highlights of the album. The contribution of other MA-members like Iain Jennings (keyboards), Gavin Griffiths (drums) and Anne-Marie Helder (vocals) might be a second reason that the music often refers to the typical sound of MA. On the other hand, also influences of for instance Pink Floyd are never far away. That's quite logical if you know that Wish You Where Here belongs to Liam's favourite albums. Good examples of Floyd-influences can be heard in Heading Home, Eternally Yours and Into The Setting Sun. On these songs, the guitar sound of Mr. Davison comes very near to the sound that David Gilmour created for so many years. Also Davison's relaxed vocals remind me in a way of Floyd. Into The Setting Sun can be seen as one of the highlights on this album as well. Anne-Marie's vocals sound superb and the keyboards, sometimes played by Davison, sound perfect giving this song a real progressive rock sound. However, this isn't the only song whereon excellent keyboard playing can be heard. Throughout the album Davison and Jennings manage to give the songs tasteful keyboard textures. Listen for example to the beautiful intro on Emerald Eternity and you'll catch my drift.
Liam Davison wrote some fantastic material. Maybe he should write more songs for MA-albums in the future. For me one thing's for sure: I liked his solo effort much better than Through These Eyes (see review), a solo album recorded by Bryan Josh. That album didn't contain that much progressive rock influences and therefore it was mostly mainstream music for me. Davison and his fellow musicians can look back at a great solo debut. People who enjoy the music of Pink Floyd and MA should have this release in their collection. Be quick, because the first edition will be limited to a thousand copies containing the bonus material. The album has been released as an Emerald and a Diamond- edition. The Emerald-edition is an enhanced CD in a slipcase with the bonus tracks A Moment Of Silence, Immortalized and video material. Only 800 copies are available. Unfortunately I only got the Diamond-edition so I can't tell you how these bonus tracks sound. However, I enjoyed the eight tracks that I could listen to.
***+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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