also by Marillion:
Probably the finest prog-rock "concept" album of the 1990s. Befitting its modern times, it deals with modern themes - the fictitious background story of a real girl rescued from suicide on the Severn Bridge. Child-abuse, drugs, depression, sex and the media are all dealt with decent tasteful lyrics (although we'll excuse "Hard as Love"'s love can be as hard as algebra...). The vinyl version also came with the gimmick of two parallel grooves for the final side, one of them containing the acoustic happy-ending song "Made Again", the other concluding with "The Great Escape", where presumably the girl is not rescued.
The band are at the peak of their creativity, and manage to sustain this throughout most of 70 minutes. The cinematic instrumental opener segues into a beautiful description of birth at the start of "Living with the Big Lie". "Runaway" is a powerful rail against the girl's abusive parents, while "Goodbye To All That" follows her through a psychological underworld, with masterfully spaced out dynamics. "The Hollow Man", Steve Hogarth's piano-backed confession of his increasing shallowness as a rock star, gives us a brief break from the narrative. Although the band briefly lose their musical and lyrical inspiration on the plain guitar-chuggers "Paper Lies", and "Hard as Love".
"Brave" simply showcases Steve's spine-tingling voice over a subtle keyboard wash, and builds up towards a hypnotic Celtic-tinged refrain. The tale reaches a symphonic climax as the girl teeters on the bridge, with "The Great Escape", and a magnificent guitar solo from Steve Rothery. Finally they all whip out their acoustics for the optimistic "Made Again", and the orchestral pomp (but presumably not the teenage protagonist) is washed away down the Severn.
May 17, 2003