'Written In The Stars'
(Cherry Red Records)
This is the first album of new music from Martin Turner under his own name, following on from last year’s celebration of Wishbone Ash music with live album ‘The Garden Party’.
‘Written In The Stars’ really has the heart, the essence and the wow factor of his former band. No longer able to trade under the Wishbone Ash name he is now billed as Martin Turner – Founding Original Member Of Wishbone Ash which is a bit of a mouthful, still, a rose by any other name and all that.
Personnel on this album are from Martin’s touring band, plus previous long-time member Ray Hatfield who recently rescinded his place in the live line up. Anyone who has seen the band live knows their quality of work, and this is reflected in this album.
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It starts with an instrumental introduction and first track, where the scene is set. The music is lush and flowing with plenty of changes in tempo and style (at one point the guitars seamlessly move from spaghetti western to proggy slide) and the fabulous innovative bass lines are here from the start.
The title track is a superb example of what made Wishbone Ash so compelling – the harmonies, the twin lead guitars, the motifs and grooves – it’s a winning formula that is every bit as good now as it ever was, and so welcome to hear.
We do get a bit of a jar in track four ‘Lovers’ though, which is a poppy Wilbury-esque number that sounds like your average pub band when heard after the stunning opening.
We are back to business with ‘Vapour Trail’ however, and on through the next three tracks. There are some magical moments here, some top work in the way the songs are constructed.
It’s not just the music - lyrically the album is absolutely packed full of the good stuff – wizards, demons, pirates, astral bodies, Kings, Queens, castles, assassins, journeys, it’s all here.
It’s a shame that we do get another jolt out of the magic with ‘Pretty Little Girls’, which sounds like late period Dire Straits and is unobjectionable enough, but again it disrupts the flow, the style is not in keeping with the rest of the album. Playing the album through again without these two tracks, the album is lifted several notches – I do wish that the spell hadn’t been broken in the first place though.
And we are back with a good run to the end with the final three tracks which showcase some fantastic guitar work and tight playing, ending with the striking ‘Interstellar Rockstar’ bringing a gentle landing to an album with some very high spots indeed.
Stylistic interruptions aside, Martin Turner has demonstrated that he has lost none of the genius that gave Wishbone Ash their signature sound, and emerges victorious as a songwriter, performer and storyteller in his own right.
The Big Bang (Overture)
The Beauty Of Chaos
Written In The Stars
The Lonely Star
For My Lady
Pretty Little Girls
Martin Turner – Bass and vocals
Danny Wilson – Guitars and harmony vocals
Tim Brown – Drums and harmony vocals
Misha Nikolic – Guitars and classical guitar
Ray Hatfield – Guitars and harmony vocals