‘Fields Of Eden’ from Magna Carta - an album looking back and moving forwards(May 27, 2015)
Changes, they’re inevitable, often un-called for and unexpected. Times gone by rarely return, then sometimes the years fall away. Strangely enough, I first heard Magna Carta with the album known as ‘Times of Change’ (among other titles) but the landmark for me (and for many) was ‘Lord Of The Ages’. More than twenty albums later, a whole boatload of ‘changes’ and a fair amount of angst, Chris Simpson and Magna Carta release ‘Fields Of Eden'.
Those of us old enough to recall those days will hear a distinct echo of the early years coming through this album. For many people there’s more than a touch of reverence to Magna Carta’s music, it marks so many milestones in so many lives (mine included). Our senses of hearing and smell evoke memories with moments that touch-off recollections … places, sound, scent. ‘Fields Of Eden’ certainly induces memories. Yet there’s an evident freshness and vibrancy.
Opening with redolent tracks like the moody ‘Anemos/ Child Of The Light’ and the lyrical imagery ‘Long Time Running’ the album develops through the wonderful ‘Fields Of Eden’ - more of a suite in homage to the Yorkshire Dales than a collection of songs and narratives. This is a superb piece of work - from the opening ‘Overture’ with its soft piano and keening violin, through pastoral acoustic echoes, spoken reminisences and deep seated tales of life ‘The Tumbling River’, ‘Middlesmoor’ and ‘Stoneback’ combine to lead towards the powerful messages of the ‘Fields of Eden’ itself and spoken epilogue. There follows a touch of slow groove with ‘The Same Rain’, a poignant history in ‘Greenhow Hill’, an invocation to remembrance in ‘This Time Around’ and for a piece of driving blues take in ‘European Union Blues’. And to close ‘Life In The Old Dog’ makes a point that only those with the roads of experience behind them could truly understand – loved it!
Magna Carta has long been acknowledged as a significant band, ‘Fields Of Eden’ will become recognised as an album that looks back and yet still moves forwards. “All that goes around comes around, as indeed it must.” And as the man said: “Maybe sometimes the best way forward is back.”
‘Fields Of Eden' releases 15 June - website: www.magnac.com
Review Tim Carroll