(All Album Reviews by jlneudorf)
With over fifteen studio albums, many fan club releases and a countless number of live albums, Marillion have been steadily releasing material for over twenty-five years. One of the fore-runners of the neo-prog scene, a band that has roots to past seventies giants, such as Genesis, has in turn influenced many progressive bands through the years. To say they have been influential is an understatement.
This leads us to their brand new CD Less Is More, a mostly acoustic reworking of tunes from the Hogarth era. On first listen I thought it was pleasant enough although it did not really catch my ear. However, subsequent listens have proved very rewarding as the subtle nature of this music began to take its hold. I was surprised how well some of these songs came across in an acoustic format. The stripped down arrangements allows the listener to really get to the inner core of these tunes. Never before has Marillion sounded so vulnerable. Hogarth sings these thirteen songs with a heartfelt sense of passion, baring his soul for all to hear. The rest of the band equally step up to the plate giving excellent performances throughout. Mark Kelly provides some beautiful piano melodies and Rothery’s acoustic guitar playing is stellar. The rhythm section of Mosely and Trewavas is understated and subtle as both play with a softer touch than on anything they have done previously.
One of my personal favourites is the melodic “Interior Lulu”, taken from marillion.com and featuring Portuguese guitar and some neat acoustic sounds that keeps things interesting. Hogarth gives a very emotional performance and Kelly’s somber piano melody provides a perfect ending. Another gem is the poignant “Out Of This World” where the dual acoustic guitar of Trewavas and Rothery gives the song a more fuller sound and the vocals of Hogarth have a delicate beauty matching the music perfectly. “Wrapped Up In Time”, the only song taken from Happiness Is The Road, has an almost country flavour, but do not let that scare you as this song really works. Rothery’s crisp electric guitar intermingles with Kelly’s piano all the while subtle Hammond organ can be heard in the background. A couple more songs to check out is “The Space”, where a sparse acoustic arrangement lets the acoustic bass of Trewavas steal the show and “Hard As Love” featuring some lovely background vocals and a wonderfully melodic chorus. I will stop there as I have done enough writing. Suffice to say, the rest of the album is not too shabby either.
Also included are two live bonus tracks including the Radiohead classic “Fake Plastic Trees”.
Thank you Marillion for putting out an album of beautiful music. For those of you who believe progressive rock lacks a soul you need to listen to Less Is More and discover this wonderful band for yourself.