"Mæstoso" is a musical term meaning majestic or dignified.
Stuart J. "Wooly" Wolstenholme was one of the cornerstones of Barclay James Harvest, a premier prog and classic rock band in the 1970s. He makes no secret of that association, and the shrink wrap cover on Mæstoso's One Drop In A Dry World has a sticker saying "File Under Barclay James Harvest".
But make no mistake – this is no BJH-clone. Wooly's latest Mæstoso album is refreshingly original and extremely professional. After just the first listen it's very apparent that this guy has been around the block many times and has learned how life works and how to create world-class music along the way. One Drop In A Dry World is mature, refined, thought-provoking, melodic and emotional, and most important, it stands the test of multiple replays.
Musically, One Drop In A Dry World is nicely varied, generally very approachable, and filled with progressive elements which are simply there – and do not dominate. Listen for rich instrumentation, big sounds, soft elegant sounds, and lots of subtleties. There is abundance of Mellotrons and some simple but truly beautiful acoustic guitar, The vocals are competent, the delivery is relaxed and laid back, and there are pleasing multi-part choruses to add variety.
The standard of the songs is generally good, but what on earth was the band trying to achieve with "The Starving People Of The World All Thank You For Your Time"? That is the title, and those are the lyrics – repeated to distraction. You could be excused for programming your CD player to skip this one. The title track is good, but not the best on the album. "Souk", "A Waiting Game" are standouts, and "2am" is about insomnia – which is very close to home for many music writers. Some tracks are simply fun (A.N.S.S., 'a nothing summer song'), while many are deep and a bit dark and deal with subjects like alcoholism (the title track), and falling on hard times and having to dig yourself out the hard way.
Don't look for a reprise of the 1970s, or of Barclay James Harvest. You'll find hints of those sounds here, but this is current music in every sense of the word.
One Drop In A Dry World is reasonably Mæstoso: Not necessarily majestic, but it is certainly dignified.
- The Bells, THE BELLS!
- Blood & Bones
- A Waiting Game
- It's U
- One Drop in a Dry World
- The End of the Road
- 2 A.M.
- The Starving People...