Ian Neal – Barkston Ash: Album Review

Fourth album from Ian Neal, Barkston Ash, is another refreshing listen to his inventive brand of progressive rock which will delight those familiar and unfamiliar to his  music.

Release Date: 16th July 2022

Label: Bandcamp

Format: digital streaming

It is so refreshing when a new name with a new outlook on Progressive music comes to your attention but on this occasion, I wish it wasn’t.  This latest release from Ian Neal is his fourth album and the question remains as to I haven’t been aware of his astounding music. With a heavy accent on classical influences, there are bound to be some early Genesis similarities, but Barkston Ash is a musical masterpiece.

Apart from one track – Barley Harvest at a brief 2 minutes – his pieces are long and require patient listening. That patience is rewarded by a crystal clear production, not a note or instrument is hidden or wasted in this majestic serene music. If twelve-minute pieces have been beyond you in the past please relent and give this music a chance. There will be enough variation to maintain your interest.

Ian is responsible for playing, production and composition. An exceptional effort when even the likes of Genesis and Yes require a large team. External support is only given vocally, spoken and sung by Evgenia Papamikrouli on The Vale Of Linden, whose sweet voice blends perfectly with the tranquil sounds. 

Versatile keyboard skills are heard throughout the whole album as is his intricate guitar work without allowing either to dominate the album we get a marvellous kaleidoscope of sound. There is variety in pace but the more dynamic sections are never overpowering.  His music doesn’t verge on the mellow and placid it wondrously wallows in it!!

With his first album appearing back in 2005 he has opted for the meticulous rather than the prolific with his four albums spanning 17 years. Yet being scrupulous in such attention to detail is not a bad quality when the end result is such sumptuous sounds.

Ian Neal online: Facebook

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