Much water has passed under many bridges since Leo Trimming’s review of Multi Story’s previous album, Crimson Stone, in 2016. Much has changed, but for the main part that means in the personnel. Multi Story is now a core of two, plus support as required. It is worthwhile, post this review, looking back on Leo’s words in compare and contrast manner. I listened to that album whilst awaiting the arrival of CBF10 (Count Back From 10), and to a fair extent concurred with his constructive criticism.
Out with the old, in with the new. The writing team is Paul Ford and Rob Wilsher, the Neale Bros having amicably departed to pastures new and cover band heaven. There is some very good material here, the progressive credentials are solid, and some of the songs are wonderful. There is nothing bad here. The musicians perform with accuracy and style, and there are the beginnings of a sound that might be purely Multi Story. However, in my humble opinion, several good elements are often joined together and drawn under one title yet do not always flow in a way that make them happy bedfellows. Chemistry I suppose.
Those that do flow are worth the albums purchase on their own. The others (as is this review) are a matter of taste, but it’s definitely worthy of a punt. What of the music? Signs and Traces is the old band, the Neale’s still in place, vocals delivered with a Fish-like intonation. It works well, a good performance but with no clear identity, nothing that says you are listening to Multi Story.
Sharp Recall is a change, the vocal style has become more individual – and is the better for it. The Fish style was fine, but a copy, intentioned or not, detracts from the song. This is stronger, but there is still a slight feeling that the elements of the recording are not entirely joined up. I am being hyper critical, there are no dire songs here, but signs of continuing development. From Last Man Standing onwards you start to get the feeling that this is the current Multi Story. Everything is just a little more rounded.
Up until Last Man Standing, the vocals felt a little unsettled and uncertain, trying styles and intonations that didn’t work for me. That’s not to say that you may not love these tracks. There is a touch of eighties about them, but Last Man Standing is a nice piece that highlights the heights that are within Multi Story’s reach (even though for some passages you can insert Status Quo’s In The Army Now).
Easy Rider picks up the pace, and though rock orientated, you do feel that Crimson Tide has finally left the building. There are some really great organ passages here, it’s a bit Roger Daltrey, the Who and Pink Floyd, but a strong piece of music (Dogs from Animals?) on Firing All Six. Rebel Inside carries forward this theme with a quieter style of The Who meet Marillion meets early Genesis, but it is very good. I think this is my favourite track and may, even with its 8-minute running time, get them some airtime.
Track 9 is CBF10! A little irony, it’s a nice tune. I think I would have switched the places of tracks 8 and 9, but it’s a strong track to finish on. For me, it’s an album of two halves, with me feeling more in touch with part two. The band have moved on, and overall, it is an enjoyable album. Superior to Crimson Tide, the band continue to develop, and probably the best is to come on the next album. A worthy and entertaining album, if not essential.
01. Signs and Traces (7:41)
02. Sharp Recall (8:08)
03. Celluloid Star (8:26)
04. Freeway Army (4:34)
05. Last Man Standing (6:02)
06. Easy Rider (7:12)
07. Firing All Six (3:36)
08. Rebel Inside (8:04)
09. CBF10 (4:06)
Total Time – 57:49
Paul Ford – Vocals, Acoustic Guitars
Rob Wilsher – Keyboards, Programming
Aedan Neal – Electric & Acoustic Guitars
Jordan Neale – Drums, Percussion
Arnie Edwards – Bass
Record Label: Festival Music
Country of Origin: U.K
Date of Release: 26th October 2020