Today a much anticipated album from >Big Big Train< has been released. It is called, >Folklore<. If you’re a >Big Big Train< fan, you’ve probably kept up with the pre-launch information. If you’ve never heard of them (hello, most of America), then you’re in for a treat. >Folklore< is a solid piece of work. This review is for the uninitiated. If you are a >Big Big Train< fan, I hope this makes you smile while thinking to yourself, “Yes! Exactly!”
I want to get one thing out of the way right up front. >Big Big Train< is a Progressive Rock group. They are not an American Pop Top 40 dance music band. They will also remind you of another band you might have heard of at one time, >Genesis<. But, >Genesis< with Peter Gabriel during the earlier years when they were working on “Foxtrot”, “Nursery Cryme” & “Trespass”. >Big Big Train< sounds like >Genesis< of that time, but more refined. This is a comparison you’re going to find all over the place. Lead singer, David Longdon, sounds like he successfully graduated from the Peter Gabriel School of “How To Sing Like Me.” And, that’s not to knock either artist. I think it’s great! There are other aspects to >Big Big Train< that will remind you of earlier >Genesis<, too. The guitarists Dave Gregory, Rikard Sjöblom & Andy Poole have moments where you swear you’re hearing Michael Rutherford or Anthony Phillips. The keyboards by Rikard Sjöblom, Danny Manners & Andy Poole are very reminiscent of Tony Banks’ style in some areas. Nick D’Virgilio plays drums for Big Big Train, and you’ll find moments that will remind you of Phil Collins, too. One thing >Big Big Train< has that >Genesis< didn’t have is a violinist. Rachel Hall lends her talents to bring everything from Olde English to progressive. Yet, with all of the similarities in style and music, >Big Big Train< is definitely it’s own band. They’re not a tribute band at all! They are unique, gifted and absolutely a pleasure to listen to.
>Big Big Train< has been around for a while, too. Formed in Bournemouth, UK in 1990, >BBT< has been developing their craft using acoustical and electric instruments. In 2009, David Longdon first sang with the group on the album Underfall Yard with Dave Gregory (Guitarist from XTC) and drummer Nick D’Virgilio from Spock’s Beard. The band’s two albums English Electric & English Electric 2 between 2012 & 2013 won the Prog magazine Breakthrough award in 2013. In 2014 the Classic Rock Society awarded >Big Big Train< their Best Band and Best Track awards, and David Longdon won Best Male Vocalist, which he also won this year. For 17 years, >BBT< was a studio only band. However, they went on stage three times in London in 2015 and were voted Best Event by Prog magazine’s reader’s poll. Several of the band members were also singled out for their talents in the same poll.
The first song on their latest album, >Folklore< is their title track. It has elements of what we in the States would consider Medieval Olde English style mixed with rock. The song goes through historical variations of telling a tale down through the ages. The second song, London Place, starts off slow and builds gently with rich instrumentals. The story revolves around a tree along a river that watches London grow through the centuries. Halfway through the song the tempo picks up and you get a taste of what each musician brings to the banquet. The last third of the song brings the tone down a bit with a nice electric guitar solo. I don’t want to spoil the rest of the album. You should discover the style for yourself. However, the rest of the songs are: 3. Along the Ridgeway, 4. Salisbury Giant, 5. The Transit Of Venus Across The Sun, 6. Wassail, 7. Winkie, 8. Brooklands & 9. Telling The Bees.
I truly love listening to this album. I hate to repeat myself about >Genesis<, but for me >BBT< is a nice continuation of a style of music I fell in love with in the 1970’s. >Folklore< is a great accomplishment for >Big Big Train<, and they deserve the praise they’re getting from those of us lucky enough to have heard this fine effort. Oh, by the way; Dave likes this album, too! 😉
So, if you’ve heard the album, please talk about it in our forums. We’d love the input, and maybe we’ll all get to know something new as well.