Syd Arthur – Sound Mirror (2014)

Share this:

Is there a musical genre called wooden progressive rock? If so, then the English band Syd Arthur is an early pioneer. On an On, a gem of a debut, proudly combined their folk and prog credentials. Two years later, Sir Arthur returns with Sound Mirror, which eclipses its predecessor with tight rhythms, chunky guitar parts, evocative vocals and aggressive mandolin and violin playing.

I caught Syd Arthur opening for Yes a few months ago, and they had no problem holding their own with the progressive-rock icons. With Sound Mirror, singer guitarist Liam Magill, his brother Joel (bass, vocals), Raven Bush (violin, keyboards, mandolin) and Fred Rother (drums) prove they are just as capable of harnessing energy on record as they are in a live setting.

Sound Mirror wastes no time kicking it off with “Garden of Time,” where articulated guitar passages compliment Liam Magill’s earnest and clean vocal. All this flows effortlessly over the driving pulse of the rhythm section. The bridge is prog-rock utopia with a distorted mandolin/keyboard interlude. “Hometown Blues” starts with a more conventional groove, but keeps the energy up with a driving bridge. The lyrics are highly descriptive and forceful. The keyboard and violin touches from Raven Bush are unique and tasteful while never being predictable.

“Autograph” effectively relies on two different time signatures and a plaintive lead vocal to tell of isolation and loneliness. Again, the middle section is effective and unconventional. It’s hard to determine if the prominent instruments are guitar, violin or mandolin. No matter, the effect works. “All and Everything” keeps the heat up with a tricky time signature and tight guitar driven verses and effective vocal and instrumental mixing by multiple Grammy-winner Tom Elmhirst. Sound Mirror ends with “Sink Hole,” a forceful and effective song bringing all the strong elements of Syd Arthur together in less than three minutes.

Strong, innovative writing, a tight and versatile rhythms section, instrumental/solo virtuosity and solid and earnest vocals, Syd Arthur’s Sound Mirror has it all for a fan of progressive rock — or for that matter a fan of quality rock music. It’s quickly become one of my favorites of 2014.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
Share this:
Close