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Evership: Evership II

Had the 2016 debut album from Evership reached my ears in its year of release then I have no qualms in telling you that it would have been my album of the year. As it was, it remained the best thing I heard in 2017 and remains a gorgeous beast of epic proportions and mountainous melodic majesty. As you can tell, I liked it. Hence the steady build-up to the second launching of the Evership has seen me attempt to contain my excitement in the realisation that lightning seldom strikes twice…

Recent times have seen a resurgence in the classic yet commercial progressive sounds of the 70s, acts like Cats In Space and The Night Flight Orchestra pulling together influences that seduce and cajole through their keen mix of outfits like 10CC, ELO, Queen and so on. Evership start this journey from another angle, for them it is the more prog end of the US rock scene that proves their base, Kansas, Styx, Boston and, admittedly that most British of acts, early Queen, informing the utterly convincing sounds this band lay down. As I said about the self-titled debut, Evership don’t sound like they are trying to recapture the essence of that era, they somehow manage to sound like they actually are from that era.

There are two main weapons that hit home as you take in the breadth of what Evership II strives for; namely great performances and razor sharp song writing (Doh! I hear you cry, but all too often one of these aspects outweighs the other and allows the sum to be much less than its parts). The voice of Beau West takes you deep into a Brad Delp/Steve Walsh wonderland, expressive, soaring, fragile, yet bold and capable of whisking you off to other lands at a chorus’s notice. Flanked by the keyboards, drums, percussion and occasional vocals of the man who creates the music, Shane Atkinson, on one side, and the fulcrum’s brother, James (lead guitar) on the other, the trio make a formidable force and one that is never over exposed. For unlike a lot of ‘modern’ prog, the aim here isn’t to dazzle and impress, it’s to engage and excite - play for the song, know where the space should be and never overstep the mark into indulgence. A mantra that the 70s prog luminaries seemed able to live by in a way that many of those who have followed could not.

Only five songs appear, although the shortest is still over seven and a half minutes long, so as was the case with the debut, events are allowed to evolve and grow, both in their theme and through the impact they create. Like all the best albums, Evership make records that need time to truly settle with you, and they are all the better because of it. Hence it is maybe a little ironic that “The Serious Room” opens in possibly the most immediate style we’ve seen so far from this act. Bassist Ben Young and man of many guitars - classical, acoustic, lead and rhythm - John Rose, building a gargantuan groove as West implants the repetition of the chorus deep in the mind. On first encounter it’s a message that can appear a little blatant, and yet with harpsichord, string and synth breakdowns, the longer you linger, the more you breath in. And in fairness, once this album has stopped spinning, you will undoubtedly still be singing this opener’s main refrain. “Monomyth”, which feels like a nod to Kansas in its title, brings the keyboards more to the fore; explosions of melody swirling through a deceptively forceful construction and hitting hard. And yet, it’s when Evership pull away and strip things back that the scope of what has been achieved here is truly seen.

“Real Or Imagined” cajoles things more into a Styx like territory, although West does undoubtedly Delp things up here, and while this layered vocal assault is truly something to behold, if there’s a criticism, it’s that the mix could just be a little sharper. Although it is one of the very few moments when we are reminded that Evership are still operating in an entirely independent state and as such we should be marvelling at what they can achieve, rather than picking holes. “Wanderer” as its name possibly suggests is the most movingly meandering piece on show, vulnerable vocals backed by growing strings and sharp, incisive but never obtrusive keyboard lines; this piece acting as something of a launch pad for Evership to reveal their most adventurous endeavour to date. “Isle Of The Broken Tree” running to just shy of thirty minutes and traversing a huge amount of ground on what would have, in the olden days, been a full sides’ worth of this ‘record’. The build is slow, patient and rewarding, acoustic guitar and piano peppered with voice to set the scene, before - a full seven-plus minutes in - Shane Atkinson’s keys take up the charge. The Boston/Kansas hybrid they create utterly compelling. Vocally things become forceful, pushy and borderline angry as the gritty anguish counterpoints the lush keys, rhythms and smoother voices they encounter, before a final pull back of intensity is patiently nurtured into a poised, wonderful crescendo, that is grand and regal in a manner befitting what has come before.

I won’t lie. I was worried. With huge expectations, often come huge crushing disappointments. Not this time, not with Evership. They’ve only gone and done it again and put quite simply, this band deserve to be huge.

Track Listing
1. The Serious Room
2. Monomyth
3. Real or Imagined
4. Wanderer
5. Isle of the Broken Tree

Added: November 3rd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Evership online
Hits: 4529
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Evership: Evership II
Posted by Brian Barwell on 2018-11-05 02:24:30
My Score:

I agree completely. Just discovered this band myself with the release of II. So good I just had to check out the debut and all I can say is this is why I listen to so much music, to discover amazing bands and music that deserves to be heard by volumes of fans of quality melodic music.

Haven't been this blown away by a "new" band since the Moon Safari debut. Highly recommended. Progressive gold is what this is...

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