Big Country - 'The Journey'

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Big Country - 'The Journey'

Wonderful comeback album from the band.

All the way from anthemic opener ‘In A Broken Promise Land’ to closing song ‘Hail & Farewell’, this album from Big Country – their ninth, but first in fourteen years – is not only a wonderfully positive statement of intent but one also permeated by a glorious desire to reignite the flame of a band whose existence was so nearly brought to a premature end by Stuart Adamson’s untimely passing.

The band is now a quintet comprising original members guitarist Bruce Watson and drummer Mark Brzezicki plus Bruce’s son Jamie (guitars), ex-Simple Minds bassist Derek Forbes and vocalist Mike Peters who should be well-known to Fireworks readers as vocalist with The Alarm and also for his solo work. On the evidence presented here, the band is buzzing with creativity.

The more I have listened to the twelve songs on ‘The Journey’ (such an appropriate title for the album, taking into account the events of the past decade) the more I have reached the opinion about just how very, very good and cohesive an album this is. If you were previously a fan of the band, I cannot stress to you how badly you need to hear it: and the same goes for those of you previously a devotee of The Alarm and/or Peters’ solo material. It is in its way a glorious amalgam of all that was best about what has gone before in these three strands. Lyrically, Peters has rediscovered a focus – and in some ways his most acerbic set of lyrics in a long while: as exemplified by “The factory of the innocent, the souls that you can't see…Your father's hands weren't the only fists that took the best from me” from ‘Angels & Promises’ and “Across a thousand nations…Is the rise or is this the fall of the broken promise land…Roses and ashes lie where your shadow falls” from the aforementioned opening anthem.

Musically too, the album is never less than a thrilling discovery. There are plenty of occasions when “that” classic sound appears – not only on ‘In A Broken Promise Land’ but also the wonderful title track, the up-tempo ‘Strong (All Through This Land’ plus equally impressive songs ‘Another Country’ and ‘Return’. These are sprinkled through the album and intersperse with songs that begin to reveal some alternative facets of the newly re-energised band, songs such as the heavily percussive ‘Winter Fire’ (Brzezicki turning in a stunning performance right across the album) and the somewhat raucous ‘Home Of The Brave’. Finally, I must mention ‘Last Ship Sails’ which comes across with the youthful vitality of The Skids and then the surety of Big Country. A great song!

The there’s Peters’ voice. Yeah, he’s not Adamson – but just a few songs in, I didn’t notice and I certainly didn’t care, because I was so pleased to have a new and wonderful Big Country album in my hands – and actually, in places, there’s an uncanny resemblance to Adamson’s sound.

‘The Journey’ comes very warmly recommended by yours truly!

Paul Jerome Smith

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