CD Reviews

Big Big Train - 'Grimspound' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     August 28, 2017    
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Yet another truly wonderful release from a band that are on a roll when it comes to creativity.

When a friend and fan of the band heard I had the promo of this album he asked me excitedly "what's it like?", to which I replied with the amazingly insightful "it's the same but different". I know, absolutely brilliant! What I meant was it is clearly Big Big Train but it's not a re-tread of their previous albums, it adds some new flavours to their already significant palette. It's one of those albums where its wonders reveal themselves over repeated plays, which makes it all the more intriguing and pleasing in my view as it means there's so much to enjoy.

New elements include an outside vocal contribution from Judy Dyble (Fairport Convention) with both Nick D'Virgilio and Rachel Hall get to perform some lead vocals, and there are a few instrumental nuances. D'Virgilio's drumming seems more prominent and the instrumental passages are more expansive than hitherto, all of which are blissful, and this time around there's no brass. What remains is the sheer majesty of their creations, the storytelling and the wonderful melodies that have the power to uplift, invoking passion and great melancholy.

Again, the songs cover themes of daring-do, heroism, heritage, science and the environment, all of which are treated brilliantly. Three of the eight tracks are epics with each one clocking in between ten and fifteen minutes. 'Brave Captain' tells the WW1 tale of Albert Ball, 'Experimental Gentlemen' recalls Captain Cook and his cohorts' voyage of discovery in 1768, and 'A Mead Hall In Winter' is a metaphor for scientific and social progression. All are magnificent compositions.

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Of the shorter numbers, 'On The Racing Line' is a companion instrumental to 'Brooklands' from the previous album. It delivers the feeling of speed splendidly. 'Meadowland' reprises Uncle Jack from earlier albums, while the title track is named after an ancient monument on Dartmoor, but the lyrics are about the crow on the album's cover art. 'The Ivy Gate' features Dyble duetting with Dave Longdon on a heart-breaking song of loss, which is both beautiful and heart-rending in equal measure. 'As The Crow Flies' rounds out the album and is another metaphor, this time for children flying the nest.

Yet another truly wonderful release from a band that are on a roll when it comes to creativity. This was supposed to be an EP but they had so much material it became a superb album instead.

Gary Marshall

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