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Nine Stones Close: Leaves

It's been five years since I immersed myself in the progressive music of Nine Stones Close, a band who back then created remote, restrained sounds that only slowly revealed an inner beauty. The album in question was Traces and over the years it has stood the test of time. Since then One Eye On The Sunrise has seen the band's star rise further, although, apparently through an ever evolving sound. That again would appear to be the case with Leaves, an album titled thus to suggest new growth, evolution and indeed, withering before being shed.

Two main differences are in play since my last NSC encounter, the first being the introduction of new singer Adrian O'Shaughnessy, a man whose style suits the second change well – a far more forceful, gritty sound being in play. I'd go as far as to call it Progrungsive… Not having heard One Eye On… the adjustment is a huge one, a band I suggested never even formed an out and out riff until their album's final track on Traces, suddenly ablaze with them. Add in layered vocals that are part Fish and part Layne Stayley and the effect is one that truly hits home. In truth it may all be a little bullish for some, the band's mainman, guitarist Adrian Jones, moving from cajoler to chief bludgeoner. To be fair, that paints an unfair picture, "Lie" thriving through a beautiful classical strings section, while an intricate mix of percussion and pinpoint guitar solos play out, before "Spoils" chooses a restrained, if tension filled slow build, suddenly revealing an unexpected "Kashmir" like slice of mid-paced Zep drama.

Impressively, all these aspects are woven together quite masterfully, and yet, for all the pieces lock together tight and the performances are top notch, even a few weeks after first encountering it, Leaves remains at arm's length, always remote and promising to let you nearer, but somehow tantalisingly out reach. I have no hesitation in describing it as an excellent and crafted piece of work, however only time – and quite a lot of it – will tell if Leaves remains an album I feel I should be enjoying more than I ever actually do. That's not to say I don't like it – I do. And yet after countless spins, the jury is still out as to exactly how much...

Track Listing
1. Complicated
2. Goldfish
3. Lie
4. Spoils
5. Leaves

Added: June 11th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Nine Stones Close online
Hits: 1342
Language: english

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