Mostly Autumn -
The Ghost Moon Orchestra (Limited Edition)

(2CD 2012, 52:07/49:45, Mostly Autumn Records AUT 0340)

The tracks:
CD 1 The Ghost Moon Orchestra
(General release)
  1- Unquiet Tears(5:27)
  2- Drops Of The Sun(3:37)
  3- The Devil And The Orchestra(3:54)
  4- The Ghost Moon Orchestra(7:01)
  5- This Ragged Heart(3:27)
  6- King Of The Valley(4:34)
  7- Things That We Notice(3:43)
  8- Tennyson Mansion(7:06)
  9- Wild Eyed Skies(5:48)
10- Top Of The World(7:27)
CD 2 - A Weather For Poets
(Bonus CD for Limited Edition only, acoustic performances)
  1- Working Man(3:48)
  2- The Rain Song(5:36)
  3- The Second Hand(4:29)
  4- Caught In A Fold(3:49)
  5- Passengers (Josh)(4:03)
  6- Pure White Light(5:10)
  7- Constellations(2:22)
  8- Evergreen(5:31)
  9- Heroes Never Die(4:09)
10- Changing Fast(3:52)
11- The Last Train(1:05)
12- Tonight(5:46)

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Boy, I really love this new album made by Mostly Autumn! The Ghost Moon Orchestra is the second album recorded with Olivia 'Livvy' Sparnenn as their lead singer. This time she succeeded in sounding even stronger than on Go Well Diamond Heart (2010). That's why the music on this album grabbed me by the throat right from the start. Livvy's performance on all tracks is just fabulous. She sings the lyrics wholeheartedly as if her life depends on it. She deserves a big compliment for her achievements on this album for her voice lifts the music to a quality level that I just heard occasionally on the previous album.

However, it isn't fair to give Olivia Sparnenn all the credits because recording an album is always a band effort. This means thumbs up as well for Bryan Josh (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Iain Jennings (keyboards), Andy Smith (bass), Gavin Griffiths (drums), Anne-Marie Helder (vocals, flute, keyboards, hand drum, percussion) and Liam Davison (guitars, vocals). I think The Ghost Moon Orchestra is a better album than Go Well Diamond Heart not only because of Sparnenn's voice, but also thanks to the better compositions. I couldn't spot any weak tracks; even the simpler sounding songs they usually start with are much better as far as I'm concerned. It seems as if they were more inspired this time to come up with such perfect compositions.

Near the end of The Ghost Moon Orchestra the songs have a tendency to become epic pieces, as always with Mostly Autumn actually. Tennyson Mansion contains a brilliant guitar solo by Brian Josh showing how influential David Gilmour must have been. The penultimate song Wild Eyed Skies wherein Troy Donockley beautifully plays the Uilleann pipes, is a stunning piece of music with fine playing on the piano and the keyboards. Especially the guitar solo seems to be a cry for help! The trio epic-like tracks ends with Top Of The World which starts mellow dominated by the keyboards, but after some time it changes into a higher gear as soon as the electric guitar comes in. It ends mellow again with a child's voice talking on the phone. A true classical Mostly Autumn song has born that will be played many times live on stage I think.

People who got the limited edition of The Ghost Moon Orchestra are very lucky, because it features a special disc containing acoustic performances of classic Mostly Autumn songs like Caught In A Fold, Passengers, Evergreen and Heroes Never Die. All these songs are played with different arrangements compared to the original versions. They sometimes use other instruments to provide the song that extra spark it needs. But also newly written songs can be enjoyed like Working Man, The Rain Song, Changing Fast, The Last Train and Tonight. All these tracks show that the musicians have no problem at all to perform their music in a smaller setting with only acoustic guitars, acoustic pianos and flutes. Occasionally they play the drums and the bass guitar as well as you can hear on Changing Fast. I really enjoyed this additional disc a lot, although in general I don't like unplugged versions of studio tracks that much.

The Ghost Moon Orchestra belongs to the best albums Mostly Autumn recorded in recent years. The change of the female lead singers undoubtedly inspired the band to produce some fantastic music that so far is one of the finest releases of 2012!

**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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