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Forest Field: Onwards And Upwards

The message here is simple, stay strong, believe in yourself and you'll eventually get to where you want to be. If only life were as straight forward, however the sentiment comes from the right place and so does the emotion and effort behind Onwards And Upwards, the second full length album from Forest Field.

Pioneer Of The Future was this act's first release and I have to say it completely passed me by, so, as a Melodic/Hard Rock (as well as Progressive) fan, the prospect of hearing singer Phil Vincent (Legion, Tragik, D'Ercole, etc) bring his voice to another genre was an interesting one. Known for belting out huge verses and sing along choruses, Vincent does a great job of reining that side of his voice in and laying down some poignant and heartfelt, if still powerful, vocals. Actually the nearest comparison I can find is Queen's Roger Taylor (a much underrated singer), a huskiness sitting underneath clear phrasing. Take "Stronger", where the album's main theme is delivered of belief and hope (although thankfully without over egging the pudding) as a prime example of how convincing Vincent is. While "Dreaming" finds the vocals sitting atop an electric piano backing, layers of voice setting the tone beautifully.

However with all the odd numbered tracks on O&U being instrumental, Vincent only gets a crack at five of the eleven on show. For the real mainman is a gentleman called Peter Cox, who wrote all of the music and played all of the instruments on this album apart from the Native American flutes on "Hope", which come from Sue Straw. In general we are in a New Age Progressive realm throughout this album, some tracks more straight ahead Soft Rock, others hard hitting and yet intricately Progressive. It's a fine blend and while some may find everything just a little too sedate, the quality of the compositions does quite clearly shine through. The instrumental "Car Park Pleasures" (I'll leave the meaning behind that one to your imagination...) showcases Cox's fine keyboard skills, a jaunty, yet engaging melody line keeping the focus as the bass locks everything in place. "Believe" on the other hand (no ambiguity about the inspiration behind this one) instead highlights a pacey yet accurate interplay between guitar and keys; the opening and closing "Onwards..." and "...Upwards" bookending the album nicely, setting the scene and ending the journey in fine fashion.

Special mention goes to "Hope" though, where Straw's Native American flute contribution adds an ethereal quality to the dark keyboard work and uplifting piano. It's as though Vangelis found a Native American heritage.

As mentioned before, what Forest Field conjure is gentle fare, likely to be too polite for those looking for the merest hint of aggression or angst in their music. However for those prepared to be lulled and cajoled, there are treats aplenty to be found as you look Onwards And Upwards.

Track Listing
1. Onwards…
2. The Secret Flame
3. Hope
4. Dreaming
5. Car Park Pleasures
6. Stronger
7. The Wanting
8. A Miracle
9. Believe
10. Sun Sins Low
11. …And Upwards

Added: December 1st 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Forest Field online
Hits: 2606
Language: english

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