Monday, 5 March 2018

John Holden / Kilty Town, two almost unrelated albums with Yes guests

I've been kindly sent a couple of previews of albums. There's no real connection to them, except they're both out soon and both have a Wakeman guesting!

Trevor Horn once said that he didn't like it when bands brought him songs with just a couple of good ideas: say, a good chorus and verse. To make a great song, he said, you need four or five good ideas, a good intro, a good coda, more going on. That's what John Holden delivers on Capture Light: yes, here's a catchy chorus, oh but there's some lovely harmonising here, and then a great solo. There's that prog ascetic. Is this a folk song? No. But would some folky guitar work at the beginning of this piece? Yes. Then stick it on. Holden is happy to pull in styles. Songs have dynamic contrast. They build and swell, ebb and flow.

"Dreamcatching" is the tranquil, meditative piece, complete with spoken word. Sort of Jon Anderson's Toltec territory. But most pieces have more rock. The insistent "Crimson Sky"recalls Fleetwood Mac, with Billy Sherwood's providing a guitar solo, one of his best. Then there are the longer, more narrative pieces: "Tears from the Sun" (a priest with 16th century conquistadors), "One Race" (Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics), and "Capture Light" (Titian and Tintoretto's rivalry in the 16th century). Songs that take you on a journey.

To deliver this impressive debut album, Holden has recruited a notable array of guests. Joe Payne, formerly of The Enid, handles those three big narrative pieces with big, evocative vocals. Jean Pageau (the guy who replaced Benoît David in Mystery) is on one piece. Oliver Wakeman and Gary O'Toole are both great on "No Man's Land". But along side some of the better known guests, there's great work from less familiar names, like Emily Dolan Davies on drums and Julie Gater on vocals. Oliver Day, from the Yes tribute band Fragile, appears on several tracks, including some lovely lute on the title track.

In all, Capture Light is a strong progressive rock album, with a '70s rock flavour, but a distinctive style of its own. There are samples at . The album is released 23 March.

While Capture Light is in prog rock territory, the forthcoming album from Kilty Town could be called world music, or perhaps progressive folk. Kilty Town is Daniel Engle and Nic Caciappo. The latter name will be familiar to Yes fans: Nic has been a high profile Yes fan for years and has worked with Rick Wakeman, and Rick returns the favour to guest on two tracks here. The album was also produced, recorded and mixed by another well-known Yes fan, Tim Morse, author of "Yes Stories" and with his own solo releases (I recommend Transformation). Wakeman has some nice playing on his two tracks, "September Waltz" (dedicated to the victims of September 11) and "Never Ending Journey". Wakeman described the tracks as the most unusual he had ever played on and this is not his usual music. The other guests were probably more at home: they include Michael Martin Murphey on vocals, Iwan Hassan on Celtic harp guitar, Oisin McAuley on fiddle, and the wife and husband team of Annbjørg Lien (Hardanger fiddle) and Bjorn Ole Rasch (pump organ).

This is free-wheeling music with high standards of performance: moving, usually joyful. The album is expected soon-ish. Follow Kilty Town at

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