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Ellesmere — Stranger Skies
(AMS 173/343, 2024, CD / LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2024-04-10

Stranger Skies Cover art

Stranger Skies is the fourth album by Ellesmere, another installment in the development of Roberto Vitelli’s vision of progressive rock. Vitelli is credited with bass, keyboards, and compositions this time out, and the only other core contributor carrying over from Wyrd (2020) is drummer Mattias Olsson. Lead vocals are by John Wilkinson and the principal guitarist is Giacomo Anselmi; frequent guests John Hackett (flute), David Jackson (woodwinds), and Tomas Bodin (keyboards) appear, as do Clive Nolan (keyboards), Graeme Taylor (acoustic guitar), Bob Hodges (keyboards), Stefano Vicarelli (keyboards), and Riccardo Romano (backing vocals, 12-string guitar). I’m not familiar with the previous Ellesmere releases, but from the descriptions in our previous reviews, it seems that Vitelli is moving further away from the gentle acoustic style and more into real progressive rock. The music is varied and sophisticated, often reminding me of Genesis during the time of Trick of the Tail and Wind and Wuthering. Wilkinson is a very good singer, and Anselmi’s guitar is strong both in rhythm and melody — he never ventures into metal-style shredding, however, so the music maintains a classic sound. The flutes and saxophones help to expand the sonic palette, making the whole album a very pleasant experience. This is a sure winner for fans of symphonic prog, but has enough energy that it’s not simply pretty. Vitelli’s writing is top-notch, and he’s assembled the perfect crew to bring it to life.

Filed under: New releases, 2024 releases

Related artist(s): Tomas Bodin, John Hackett, David Jackson, Clive Nolan, Ellesmere

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