“Still Beautiful” is Mostly Autumn’s third live album in three years. A cynic might accuse them of milking the fanbase with yet another live release, but the success of last year’s “That Night In Leamington” and the two disks of “Live 2009″ does suggest there’s a market for a live document of every tour. This one is significant as it’s the first to feature Olivia Sparnenn as the band’s lead vocalist.
Let’s get the one negative out of the way first; the packaging isn’t terribly inspiring, with very little about the band apart from a black and white photo of each band member. Very little too in the way of credits and nothing about when or where it was recorded. It’s been criticised for looking like a bootleg, and those criticisms can’t easily be dismissed.
But the actual quality of the album is anything but an official bootleg; they’ve taken a lot of care mixing and mastering this. The huge sound of the seven-piece band is immensely powerful. If you’ve seen the band live on the 2011 spring tour you’ll know just how good they’ve been, and this recording captures all that energy and intensity, if anything better than on “Live 2009″. If you haven’t had the chance to see them live, you’ll hear what you’ve been missing; they really have been that good.
The running order is odd, bearing little resemblance to the actual running order on the tour. I think the whole set is present bar “Fading Colours” and “Spirit of Autumn Past”, drawing heavily from the most recent album “Go Well Diamond Heart” including a couple of songs from the second disk of the now sold-out special edition, including the beautiful “Forever Young”.
This album showcases new vocalist Olivia Sparnenn’s power and range as a vocalist. In her second year fronting the band her interpretation of oldies such as “Evergreen”, “Passengers” or “Caught in a Fold” proves that the back catalogue is in safe hands, and her performance on newer songs written for her voice is stunning. Perhaps the high spot on the entire album is the powerful and intense “Questioning Eyes”, the former Breathing Space number now a fixture in Mostly Autumn’s set.
If you’re a Mostly Autumn fan you will want this album. If you’re not familiar with their music, this is as good a place to start as any. The album is available now from Mostly Autumn records.