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The Flower Kings – ‘Look At You Now’


TFK

This is the sixteenth studio album from the Swedish progsters and sees an unexplained change in line up, with keyboardist Zack Kamins absent this time around and main man Roine Stolt along with guest Lalle Larsson taking up that role alongside his guitar and vocal duties, Hammond organ seemingly their weapon of choice.

The material has been inspired by the turbulent times we’ve been living through lately as well as the ancient goals of humankind to find peace and enlightenment. After a single listen it’s clear that this album is full of all the band’s best traits, superb themes and melodies that burrow into your brain and stay there, and great playing. A slight twist on their usual approach is the use of female vocalists Jannica Lund and Mariana Semkina (Iamthemorning) which offers something a little different and suits the material on which they are used very nicely indeed, including a splendid duet with Stolt on ‘Day For Peace’; the track driven by a marshal drumbeat.

Known for their epic tracks, this time around the majority are kept under five minutes aside from the title track which closes out the album. ‘Beginner’s Eyes’ opens the collection in upbeat and bouncy fashion with its lovely melody, while ‘The Dream’ builds in power. ‘Hollow Man’ is lyrically interesting (who could it be about?) and full of lovely little musical accentuations. ‘Dr. Ribedeaux’ is a short instrumental on which Mirko DeMaio’s drumming and Hasse Bruniusson’s percussion are a delight, while ‘Mother Earth’ starts with a Brian May-like guitar motif, given the unfamiliar vocal delivery I assume Michael Stolt takes on that role, his brother’s guitar solo is delightful.

‘The Queen’ is another instrumental, the nylon guitar and flute giving it a Steve Hackett vibe initially before it takes on a Camel feel. ‘The Light In Your Eyes’ has a wonderful melody as does ‘Season’s End’, all of which is quintessential TFK. ‘Scars’ is bluesy, and ‘Stronghold’ is dark with lovely Hammond and guitar motifs, while ‘Father Sky’ is uplifting. The title track is epic TFK with more unforgettable themes, plus the female backing vocals are rather special; does that preclude it from being played live? I hope not.

It’s fair to say that TFK have delivered another wonderful set of tracks on what is arguably their most consistent album to date. Fabulous!

 

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