SEAN FILKINS – War and Peace & Other Short Stories (2011)

SEAN FILKINS - War and Peace & Other Short Stories (2011)

British SEAN FILKINS was the lead singer of the well respected UK prog band Big Big Train on the albums ‘Gathering Speed’ (2004) and ‘The Difference Machine’ (2007), two of the band’s better efforts.
Having left Big Big Train he guessed as a singer on ex Galahad bass player Lee Abraham’s third solo album ‘Black & White’.
Now, joined by Abraham and a large list of other guest musicians (Gary Chandler from Jadis, Dave Meros from Spock’s Beard, John Mitchell from It Bites and many more) he puts out his first solo album “War And Peace & Other Short Stories”.

After giving it more than a few spins, I must say I was quite impressed by this CD.
After the short intro “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” we get five very good Prog/Rock pieces very much in the Neo tradition (think Arena, IQ, early Marillion).
It is a wonderful varied musical fare, and the catchiness on the compositions is always present.
Symphonic melodies and strong rockier parts are blended with bombast and drama, ambient sounds, enchanting ballads, orchestral keyboards, and great noise / electronic sampled sounds.
Specially charming is the musical performance on “Prisoner Of Conscience, Part 1 – The Soldier”. You have it all hare, plus exotic instruments as didgeridoo, flamenco guitar, mandolin or sitar. All used with taste and a ‘rock approach’, never boring.
“Epitaph For A Mariner” is particularly striking as well, featuring heavenly female vocals.

I will clearly attach the ‘Neo’ tag to “War and Peace & Other Short Stories”, that means; although the format is typically Progg (long compositions with several parts), the sound is absolutely modern, in parts very close to prog-metal, sometimes extremely melodic (rock), almost commercial.
The arrangements keeps you interested all the time, featuring an excellent guitar work (really, really good), a varied palette of keyboards and an awesome rhythm section.
Filkins’ voice fits like a glove for this kind of music, melodic and soft when needed, but with presence and authority.
Production is perfect, clear and airy, superbly mixed.
I would conclude by saying that Sean Filkins’ “War And Peace & Other Short Stories” should be considered one of the best Neo Prog albums to have come out in quite a while, this on the strenght of the compositions and the musicians involved.
No matter if you like proggy music or not, you will love this album, as it exceeds the boundaries, this is just wonderful ROCK music.

1. Are You Sitting Comfortably?
2. The English Eccentric
3. Prisoner Of Conscience, Part 1 – The Soldier
4. Prisoner Of Conscience, Part 2 – The Ordinary Man
5. Epitaph For A Mariner ;
I) Sailors Hymn
II) Sirens Song
III) Maelstrom
IV) Ode To William Pull
V) Epitaph
6. Learn How To Learn

Sean Filkins: Vocals, guitars, ebow guitar, additional keyboards, percussion, blues harp, didgeridoo.

Gary Chandler: Guitars on 2
Dave Meros: Bass on 2
Rob Arnold: Keyboards on 3, 4, 5
Alistar Begg: Fretless Bass on 3
Marc Clayton: Tabla on 3, 6
Christopher James Harrison: Guitars on 3
John Mitchell: Guitars on 3, 4, 5
Simon Nixon: Flamenco Guitar on 3
Darren Newitt: Lead Guitar on 3, 6
Ben Rouse: Mandolin
Helen Tudor: Flute
Geoff Webb: Acoustic Guitar & Keyboards
Diane Abraham, Amanda Filkins: Vocals on 3
Amanda Filkins: Support Vocals on 3
Abigail Filkins: Support Vocals on 5
Daisy Sammes: Sirens Vocals on 5


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