I have lived with this album off and on for the past month or so. It's a bit special for a number of reasons. Firstly a prog band from the West Coast of Scotland, my home turf is a bit rare. The artwork is based on scenes of Arran and Ailsa Craig, both so familiar to me growing up in Irvine.
This is the third album from the band who have quickly gained quite a reputation for their melodic, symphonic prog with classical overtones. But it's the lyrics for this new album that take centre stage. Basically the album comprises a single 45 minute piece, "Spirit" which is in essence a spiritual journey through grief based on traumatic personal loss. It covers the full emotional gamut which grief produces, from sadness, anger, confusion through to some sort of acceptance and ability to continue and move forward. Though written from personal experience, we can all somehow readily relate to the emotional experiences revealed in the songs honest, heartfelt words and for that the album takes on added gravitas. Musically, it's as strong as previous albums, with the classical motifs nicely woven into the rock arrangements. The mixing and mastering by Rob Aubrey (IQ, Big Big Train etc) is so detailed, warm and crisp, making for a very pleasing listen indeed.
To be honest this album is the rarest of things in prog. An album that openly explores the emotions which surface as a result of a deep, tragic personal loss. It's brave of writer Jim Johnston to lay bare his feelings in such a public manner. Maybe the process of writing and recording the album brought him some sort of peace and understanding. I do hope so!