Filkins, Sean - Love And Peace & Other Short Stories,
Prior this his debut solo album Sean had made a name for himself with both Big Big Train and Lorien, and so I approached this with some interest. There are also a large number of guest musicians involved, including Gary Chandler (Jadis), Dave Meros (Spock's Beard), John Mitchell (It Bites, Frost) and Lee Abraham (Galahad) so given that I also like all of these bands I thought that we may just be onto a winner here. It commences with the sound of a kettle boiling and then someone making a cup of tea while listening to a brass band playing “Jerusalem” on the radio. Yes, it’s all very English in the extreme but I don’t get it. My initial reaction was that Kiss did it much better at the beginning of ‘Destroyer’ many years earlier so why bother? But, my initial reaction soon faded as we were flung headlong into “The English Eccentric” which moves from electric to acoustic guitar as the mood and style moves here and there. Sean has a really great vocal style, and soon I was lost in the world and had almost forgiven him for the over-indulgent start to the album.
The longest song on the album is “Epitaph For A Mariner”, and it starts with a church organ and a young singer singing the first verse of “For Those In Peril On The Sea”. As soon as I hear that my feeling on the album took a major twist and I found myself listening intensely to what was going on. I was raised in fishing community in the West of England, where not only do our churches have the standard Harvest Festival but also Harvest of the Sea. That hymn is something I sang many times when I was younger, as it was always a major part of the service when the community asked for the trawlermen to be watched over and brought back safe. Although not many fishermen were lost at sea, it always greatly affected the town when it happened. I found myself back in my youth, feeling very English (these days I am a proud Kiwi), and feeling that I was starting to understand the album and what Sean was attempting to achieve.
Overall I feel he managed it, and the result is a prog album that is indeed very English in lots of ways, looking backwards and also forweards to the future and one that is well worth investigating.