2014 Album of the Year

Most regular readers of this blog will probably have guessed by now that this would be the album of the year. In a year with so many great records one has to try to be objective and put personal favouritism aside. But in the end, there can only be one album of the year, and this record does deserve it.  What exactly is it about York that spawns so many great bands?

Mostly Autumn Dressed in Voices

Dressed in VoicesThe last few Mostly Autumn albums have had their moments, and have been enjoyable works, but all of them fell frustratingly short of the records the band seemed capable of making. With “Dressed in Voices” the band have finally created the career-defining masterpiece they’ve always had in them. Lyrically it’s a dark concept album about life, death and the consequences of violence, and musically it’s a distillation of the best elements of their past three or four albums, with the band’s three songwriters all on the same page.

There’s a similar heavy progressive vibe to 2005′s “Storms Over Still Waters”, with the occasional nod to the celtic-folk of their early days. It’s got that big, rich, and many-layered sound that needs a seven-piece band to reproduce live. There are emotive performances from Olivia Sparnenn, who’s grown tremendously as a vocalist over the past few years, plenty of classic Bryan Josh lead guitar, Iain Jennings’ all-enveloping keys providing the perfect instrumental foil, and some appearances of Anne-Marie Helder’s flute. This is the best record they’ve made for many years, and may even be the best of their career.

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5 Responses to 2014 Album of the Year

  1. Harold Pinkney says:

    A good choice Tim.
    Certainly the best post Heather album so far.

  2. Ian Almond says:

    I have to agree with Tim a great album and following on from GWDH and GMO I think it shows a total rejuvenation of the band after Heathers departure.
    The last couple of Albums with Heather had some good tracks but were a little bit to lacklustre with the band seeming to run out of ideas especially Heart full of Stars.
    I have seen the band perform Dressed in voices three times this year and it is stunning piece of work that really works live, hope it remains In the set next year and let’s have a few more tracks from Olivia’s era such as unquiet tears and wild eyed skies both classics

  3. Archangel says:

    Well you’re right, it doesn’t come as any surprise that this is your album of the year, and I certainly won’t argue with your choice. However, I can’t quite believe you haven’t found space somewhere in your Top 25 for Transatlantic’s ‘Kaleidoscope’, which would certainly be in my Top 5. You gave it a pretty favourable review when it came out. Or is it that January releases are so old by now that they tend to get forgotten?

  4. Sam Lewis says:

    I agree, and I am pretty sure this will end up being my album of the year too :)

  5. Synthetase says:

    I really like this album, but I do prefer the female vocals over Josh. There are occasions where he’s a bit flat and it grates a little. In that respect it knocks it off the top of the my own list.

    As an aside, I’ve enjoyed the countdown. It’s reminded me of some of the great music I’ve been listening to this year. I get Burning Shed’s email newsletter and they always promote Prog mag when it’s out. The cover of the latest issue? 1974, and all the usual suspects feature in the headlines. Yawn. Contrast that with your list of 25 great albums from this year alone and I’m glad I’m not reading endless retreads of Yes and Genesis.