After 13 years, Heather Findlay, the lead singer of one of England's premier prog bands, Mostly Autumn, decided to work on her solo career. She has since created several songs which she found were working themselves into separate EPs, rather than a full concept album. She has decided to release The Phoenix Suite, as the initial EP in the series. Her music, drawn from an open canvass of ideas, which has inspired the artwork that decorates the one hundred limited collector's edition sleeves of The Phoenix Suite. You have to see the painting to get completely immersed in the sensation of this album and it's awakening of spirits.
Heather takes care of the vocals and percussion along with band mates: Chris Johnson, programming, guitars and voice; Dave Kilminster, guitars; Alex Cromarty, drums; and Steve Vantsis, bass guitars.
Heather is known for her beautiful and soft voice on such classics as "The Gap is too Wide", but as with most artists, she has been inspired by many artists and genres. This album reflects that diversity of talent and emotion well. The album has a harder edge to it and showcases her ability to play in the same waters as other rockers who she has admired. There is a Led Zeppelin/early Heart feel to this whole EP.
This is a great start and I look forward to listening and playing the rest of the story as it takes flight on the wings of this Phoenix.
Cool soft guitar strings as the listener is welcomed to the opening of this new chapter with "Red Dust". Heather sounds determined, and those electric lead guitars and drums really bring the power, for this new sound. "Red, red dust, fallen out of touch". A voice full of confidence. "Taking a guilty plunge, Russian Roulette". Power drums and guitar grinding and moving as Heather sings, "I give you the deeds to my final breath. Suck me in and pull me under". A strong opener full of passion, thunder and lightning.
Soft female vocals, guitar and bass open "Phoenix". Unlike the last song, this one has a dark, bluesy opening to it. The tapping and pounding drums and background electric guitar create a feeling and sound which capture your imagination. There is immediacy to Heather's delivery as well, "So burn like a Phoenix, intense like you mean it." Those Page – like, guitar sounds and Heather's rising vocals help drive home that harder edge.
Drums and bass open "Cellophane". Heather sings, "Pulling the thread out of the safety net". A Western – like story set to rolling drums and guitars, "Keep running man, with your killing hands and pray you're not found". Then Heather slows things down with a slow drifting, emotional break, "Are you there, tell me you're there", just beautiful, before the galloping rhythm takes over again and is further enhanced by chanting and shouting towards the end. The power continues to build like a fire.
"Seven" is more of what you might expect from Heather's past. The beautiful Hackett – like guitar, soft cymbals and drums that open this song are matched with Heather's more subdued vocals. A very early Heart sound to this one. Heather draws many similarities to the Wilson sisters on this EP. "Every king is armed. Calvary and the fire lords". The sound brings back memories of the mystic mood of "Dream of the Archer", without the acoustics.
Power electric and bass guitars open "Mona Lisa". This one has a real Anne Wilson sound and feel to it. Heather, wonders, "How did she come to hate you? How did you fall under the spell of the infernal dancer's call?" The drums and guitars soar and then drift before a strong melody catches hold. Heather really rips through the rest with rising vocals and dark lyrics which blend well with the dark mood of the guitars, bass, and drums, till the final embers are left to cool.
1) Red Dust
5) Mona Lisa