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Wishbone Ash - 'Blue Horizon' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/01/3a/ce/wishbone-ash-blue-horizon-34-1400616701.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 20, 2014    
 
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If only all bands were as assured and confident as 'Blue Horizon' finds Wishbone Ash.

Through their 2012 release 'Elegant Stealth', Wishbone Ash revealed a band reinvigorated and right at the top of their game. Following such an album is always a challenge, even for an outfit with the unquestionable catalogue that WA have and the decades of experience fret-caressing that Andy Powell brings. Again Powell is joined by second guitarist - after all they need that trademark twin guitar sound they pioneered – Muddy Manninen, Bob Skeat playing bass and Joe Crabtree, drums.

'Elegant...', while undoubtedly WA like in its outlook, often strayed from the path expected due to being relaxed, poised and even, on occasion, Jazzy. So maybe it is no surprise that 'Blue Horizon' takes a few steps back towards the more classic sound this band are known for, although in a less ebullient fashion. 'Take It Back' begins the journey with ex-Mama's Boys Pat McManus onboard, his classy fiddle work operating expertly against the twin guitar excursions, creating a song that long term followers will revel in immediately. 'Deep Blues' gives away its vibe through its name, a similar feel to latter day Mark Knopfler given a boot in the jacksy by a fiery double-fret dual.

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Already it's clear that 'Blue...' finds four musicians (and a few helpers) not only laying down some classy grooves but, and possibly more importantly, having a blast as they do so; the sheer joy behind what's going down is plain to hear. Powell's voice has aged remarkably well, still possessing the smooth clear tone that has seduced across so many albums and songs over the years, while his guitar prowess remains beyond question. Keeping things in the family, his son Aynsley contributes two songs, the aforementioned album opener and 'American Century', where the guitar progressions are unmistakably WA and the guest vocal from Lucy Underhill provides an interesting change of focus and aural colour. Other songwriting credits are shared around; former WA guitarist Roger Filgate contributing the pleasingly considered 'Strange How Things Come Back Around'. McManus provided the unsurprisingly Celtic and majestic closer 'All There Is To Say', where once again his fiddle playing provides a Folky tinge this band have been long associated with.

'Blue...' finds WA in an assured place where even and steady become surprisingly exciting and while I can't see it quite replacing 'Elegant...' as the best of their recent output, it certainly neither cowers in its shadow, nor feels the need to try and replicate its style. If only all bands were as assured and confident as 'Blue Horizon' finds Wishbone Ash.

Steven Reid

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