Bright and breezy Prog – business as usual for The Flower Kings.
Release Date: 9th September 2023
Label: Inside Out Music
Format: digital / CD / vinyl
Having recently found their catalogue given a reboot by the might of Sony, album #16 finds the Roine Stolt powered Swedes busting a gut with a bright and breezy set.
Yes, maybe inspired by the turbulent times in which we exist, but Look At You Now provides an antidote with an emphasis on bold melodies and lively optimism. As is his wont, aptly modeled by his contributions to Transatlantic, Stolt leads the way through a colourful glut of stylings, from friendly Beatles-esque clues with lots of little quirks, to blending styles that range from having a foot in the camps of Swedish folk music to jazz-rock & bombastic operatic and freeform improvisation.
The Kings’ friendly and potent version of lush progressive rock is encapsulated in more restrained bouts on Look At You Now – “looking for hometown synergy” they harmonize on the opening cut as we prepare for the moment(s) when the Stolt guitar breaks free. Aside from his signature ‘melodic with emotion’ lines, he takes a more classical direction with the nylon intro to The Queen that combines bluesy electric lines with stately medieval passages. The man is never short of something to say musically.Further evidence comes via the instrumental Dr Ribedeaux, packed with inventive flourishes and Scars where the synth and lead guitar lines that have been so string a trademark of The Flower Kings, do their bidding.
The Dream shimmers with a Celtic hue while Roine channels some throaty Dylan, but not hanging around before evolving into a stately processional and for a journey back towards Seventies Prog, the organ sounds of Seasons End harks back to the harsh and reedy ELP/VdGG sound -before an easy cadence takes over. Stronghold is built on huge hanging chords, the canvas for a guitar solo that’s the Floydian moment and along with Day Of Peace, pave the way for the finale which is celebrated with a extended ten minute plus title track. The opening “what will be will be” line is perfect for the bucolic acoustic intro that bursts into life with some busy passages vying with further pastoral interludes and delicious harmonies and reflections.
Roine and The Flower Kings can always be relied upon for a musical experience that rarely fails to deliver anything less than showers of blessings. Look At You Now is no exception.