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Winter Tree, The: Topaz Islands Dreaming

I have been reviewing Winter Tree albums for almost a decade, about six so far. A number of years ago the band was known as Magus, their last album was Lucid Dreamer in 2005. Then Andrew Laitres, the band’s leader changed the name to The Winter Tree and haven’t looked back since. They have released a consistent run of albums beginning with their self-titled release in 2011 and culminating with their latest titled Topaz Islands Dreaming.

The band is known for their artful take on lush symphonic prog, never going for that self-indulgent sound or bloated excessiveness (I actually like that sort of thing but I digress). The Winter Tree’s music has always been classy and artful, very catchy and melodic and this new platter is no different. What is different is most of these tracks are covers and I have to say Andrew’s selections are very nice and reflect his love for each and every song. The first track “60 Years On” is a beautifully orchestrated take on the Elton John classic with terrific vocals from Nad Sylvan. The Beatle’s “Mother Nature’s Son” features some nice flute and bass clarinet from Oliver Fox followed by the light and breezy “Looking For Atlantis”. Joni Mitchell’s “The Dawntreader” is given a wonderful treatment with just cello and acoustic guitar encapsulating the beauty of the original piece. Zeppelin’s “That’s The Way” is another mellow offering with ethereal strings and lovely acoustic guitar. Andrew’s vocals remind me of Cat Stevens which is a huge complement. More highlights include the haunting Moody Blues’ classic “And the Tide Rushes In” featuring a captivating Mellotron soundscape courtesy of Jacob Holm-Lupo. The disc ends with a Laitres original, the four part new age suite “Topaz Islands”. The track is all Laitres, his serene and imaginative synth work being the center of the piece.

Although this disc doesn’t rock out, it’s a beautifully serene listen and very artful, just as you would expect art rock to be. Highly recommended.

*The album cover appears slightly different than the image above.*

Track Listing:
1. 60 Years On (4:36)
2. Mother Nature’s Son (3:15)
3. Looking For Atlantis (4:59)
4. The Dawntreader (4:44)
5. The Lake Isle of Innisfree (3:24)
6. That’s The Way (6:56)
7. Matilda Mother (2:55)
8. Isle of Islay (3:58)
9. And the Tide Rushes In (3:46)
10. Fires (3:41)
11. Nod (2:44)
12. Oh Sister (3:04)
13. Dream Ships Set Sail (3:41)
14. Topaz Islands
i. A World of Its Own (12:29)
ii. Paradox Island (3:13)
iii. Northern Waters (4:43)
iv. The Farthest Shore (6:07)

Added: May 26th 2019
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 316
Language: english

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