Riversea is a collaboration between singer/songwriter Marc Atkinson and keyboard player Brendan Eyre. It’s been a long time in the making, so long in fact it almost makes you wonder if the album title is a reference to how long ago since they started work on it.
Although the creative core of Riversea are a duo, it’s a full band project with a cast of guest musicians that reads like a who’s who of the somewhat incestuous York rock scene. It includes Alex Cromarty of The Heather Findlay Band on drums, Dave Clements on bass, and a whole host of guest guitarists, including Mostly Autumn’s Bryan Josh and Liam Davison, Stolen Earth’s Adam Dawson, and Mark Rowen, formerly of Breathing Space.
They have delivered a strongly song-orientated record, with a big, rich sound. Atkinson’s emotive vocals strongly recall Marillion’s Steve Hogarth, especially on the quieter parts. As one might expect, there’s an emphasis on keyboard-led arrangements ranging from simple piano accompaniments to heavy symphonic rock sections. Eyre tends to leave much of the soloing to the guest guitarists, whose differing styles add variety. Despite the presence of plenty of virtuoso musicians, there is little or no self-indulgent showboating for it’s own sake; all the solos and instrumental passages fit the song and never outstay their welcomes.
Highlights include the thought-provoking “Is This What God Wants”, and “Falling Stars” with it’s great heavy neo-prog instrumental break featuring one of Eyre’s few keyboard solos and an incredible guitar solo from by Adrian Jones. Others standouts are “The Song”, with the soaring vocal in the end section from Mostly Autumn’s Olivia Sparnenn, and “Freeze the Frame”, a lovely laid-back Pink Floyd feel, with some great guitar from former Breathing Space man Mark Rowen. But it’s hard to pick individual songs; this is really one of those albums where the quality is consistent throughout. There’s no filler here, the arrangements are thoroughly honed and polished, and nothing sounds half-finished or out of place.
With this, and the excellent albums by Mostly Autumn and Stolen Earth all released in the space of a few weeks, I wonder what it is about York. Is there something in the water?
This is an album which turned out to be well worth the wait. Fans of latter-day Marillion should love this, but it should also appeal to anyone that loves well-crafted music with plenty of emotional depth.
Old-fashioned types can buy the CD from http://riversea-band.com
The iPod generation can download it from http://riversea.bandcamp.com/album/out-of-an-ancient-world