Released by: Garage Records
Release date: 31 August 2018
Genre: Progressive Rock
Martin Barre – Guitars, Mandolin
Dan Crisp – Vocals
Darby Todd – Drums
Aaron Graham – Drums
Josiah J – Percussion/Hammond
Alan Thompson – Bass, Fretless Bass
Becca Langsford – Vocals, Backing Vocals
Alex Hart – Vocals, Backing Vocals
Buster Cottam – “Stand up” bass
01. Lone Wolf
02. Out of Time
03. On my Way
04. Roads Less Travelled
05. Badcore Blues
07. For No Man
08. (This is) My Driving Song
09. You are an Angel
11. And the Band Played On
Nearly 3 years ago I reviewed Martin Barres 6th Studio Album “Back to Steel” giving it a resounding and well deserved 10/10. It was an impressive album which still gets regular play from me and as I recall Barre was exceptionally impressed with the production himself considering it his most important album to date. While I may have hoped for more of the same, the latest release is a different bag of tricks entirely… As I pondered the album title “Roads Less Travelled”, I considered an exploration into less traversed musical territory might be on the agenda, then again, as a member of Jethro Tull for 40+ it’s very difficult to imagine much has been left undiscovered…
Opening track Lone Wolf kick starts this album with an air of familiarity, indeed, until the vocals are introduced you could be forgiven for thinking this was a Tull song – it’s an interesting musical melting pot of rock and folk brought right up to date vocally.
While the first four tracks bear comfortable similarities, at nearly halfway through the album, I was completely thrown by Badcore Blues. The coupling of slide guitar and intense, bluesy, female vocals make it musically, lyrically and vocally haunting – it had me instantly captivated and hitting the repeat button.
Seattle is an upbeat catchy number which could probably be loosely genred as rock but is absolutely peppered with complex musical intricacies and in yet another change in direction You are an Angel takes on a superbly delicate jazz feel featuring stunning female vocals and beautiful acoustic guitar.
Penultimate track Trinity is an instrumental which is one of the undoubted highlights of this album and is clearly demonstrative of Martins versatility and musical brilliance, the lack of vocals in this instance giving more weight to the piece by allowing the listener to be transported by the music.
The finisher on this release And the Band Played On is reminiscent of an old-style jazz cabaret song for the most part although other styles come into play here and there, a catchy, easy listening sign off.
Without a doubt, this is one of the most eclectic albums I have listened to in a very long time with no two songs overly alike and many changing style and direction on numerous occasions throughout their duration. Barre says “Roads Less Travelled reflects my belief in taking music somewhere new” – this is, in my opinion, Martin Barres most experimental offering to date with superb arrangements featuring top class musicians. Dan Crisps crystal clear vocals feature on most of the tracks, however, the female vocalists perfectly compliment the songs on which they perform and the variation works magnificently. Barre is in fine form showcasing his aptitude and diversity by switching between electric and acoustic guitars and mandolin in a multitude of styles as the fabulous rhythm section weave their background magic.
Ambitious? Possibly, Different? Definitely, but it works, absolutely.
Written by: Karen Hetherington