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Gordon Giltrap & Paul Ward: The Last of England

The duo of acclaimed folk guitarist Gordon Giltrap and keyboard player/producer Paul Ward have put their creative skills together on numerous projects over the years, with their latest The Last of England arriving just in time to celebrate Angel Air Records' 20th Anniversary. Giltrap has been wowing listeners since the late '60s with his wonderful acoustic guitar playing, and he's again in fine form here alongside the lush arrangements crafted by Ward, the two delivering 14 tracks of calming folk, soaring prog, and melodic pop.

With beds of synths crafting alluring soundscapes and orchestral arrangements, Giltrap mesmerizes with his nimble guitar flights, as on the folky prog of "Spring" or the epic title track, while "All the Days of May" is just gorgeous, melodic pop music that enchants on every level. It's not all upbeat and wispy however, with "The Light of the World" having more of a somber tone and the solo Giltrap piece "Loren" also taking a more poignant, emotional course, but for the most part, this is a very uplifting album that tugs at your very soul. "Work" is just lovely, a symphonic prog ride littered with Giltrap's deft picking, and Ward's fine church organ adds a majestic touch to the grand "The Anna Fantasia". Fairport Convention's Rick Sanders even shows up as a guest on the final track "A Promise Fulfilled", easily the albums brightest song and a lovely way to end this magical album.

The Last of England arrives here in early 2017 and signals a great start to the new year. Filled with memorable melodies and fantastic instrumentation, it's a can't miss instrumental album for anyone into folk based prog music with killer acoustic guitar work and symphonic keyboard arrangements. Well done guys!

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1. The Last Of England
2. All The Days Of May
3. Spring
4. Elegy (Chatterton)
5. April Love
6. The Light Of The World
7. Work
8. Loren
9. The Anna Fantasia
10. This Father's Love
11. Sadie In May
12. Ania's Dream
13. Plas Oriel
14. A Promise Fulfilled

Added: October 1st 2017
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: More Info @ Angel Air Records
Hits: 3197
Language: english

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Gordon Giltrap & Paul Ward: The Last of England
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2017-10-01 23:18:55
My Score:

Gordon Giltrap is one of those highly regarded musicians you may not know much about. He began his recording career in the 1960s with the release of his debut album in 1968 on Transatlantic Records and followed it with Portrait a year later. He continued to release records in the '70s and had a hit with the song "Heartstring" in 1978. He has continued to release new music over the last few decades with his latest collaboration featuring keyboardist Paul Ward whom he met in the '80s. I was unfamiliar with Ward prior to hearing the Angel Air production The Last Of England released January 20, 2017.

Lovely acoustic guitar and Ward's enchanting orchestrations permeate this disc beginning with the wonderful progressive folk of the title track. A majestic keyboard soundscape moves in waves, very lush and captivating before acoustic guitar begins. It's an enrapturing listen as the keyboard and guitar surge with emotive clarity. "All The Days Of May" features more superb orchestrations and a beautiful melody. With the lilting and whimsical "Spring" the sound is more upbeat and the melody just as strong as the first two tracks. "Elegy" is another stunningly beautiful example of the exquisite interaction of acoustic guitar and string orchestrations.

No matter what song you listen to the same conclusion will be met, The Last Of England is of very high quality and will be greatly appreciated by lovers of acoustic and orchestral music played with emotion and feeling. Highly recommended!

Gordon Giltrap & Paul Ward: The Last of England
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2017-01-14 19:24:17
My Score:

Most chance meetings at a car boot sale result in the exchange of chipped tea cups, a few naff CD singles and a standard lamp in need of a new plug. However for keyboard player and arranger Paul Ward it began a friendship with respected guitarist, and his lifelong musical hero, Gordon Giltrap. A friendship which has flourished over thirty years into a collaboration.

The Last Of England is the fruits of that coming together, much of which was inspired by paintings from the Pre-Raphaelite school of art, the remaining tracks being more obviously human tales of friendship and love, relationships and life. Giltrap, whose career stretches back to the mid 70s "Heartsong" reaching number 21 in the UK singles chart in 1978 composed all fourteen of the album's instrumental pieces and yet Ward's contribution is key. The lush and expansive framework he brings to the heartfelt guitar work often setting the tone and atmosphere. Much of what you can expect to find is pensive, almost introspective, however there's no doubt that it's also hugely engaging, the album's honesty hard to resist. One of the best examples is "All The Days Of May", a lulling melody ebbing and flowing with such natural ease that it's virtually impossible not to stop what you're doing and simply let it all sink in. The majority of the album sits in a similar, considered position and yet "Spring" brings an almost Medieval playfulness, "Work" a stark, barren industrial clank and clang. However it's the closing "A Promise Fulfilled" which steps furthest and most unexpectedly out of the framework, the violin of Fairport Convention's Ric Sanders revealing a jaunty smile and carefree attitude not seen elsewhere. It's quite a startling conclusion and yet, arguably, it's the album's highlight.

Beautifully crafted, thoughtfully made and expertly executed, The Last Of England is an album I can see myself coming back to often as an accompaniment to those more thoughtful moments. However that it stands up to scrutiny no matter the mood or situation is ultimately what makes it shine out from the instrumental crowd.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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