Mickey Simmonds is best known for playing keyboards and writing much of the music on Fish's first couple of solo albums. He has also done session work with Mike Oldfield and Camel. This solo album is half vocal and half instrumental, all played by Simmonds and also featuring singer Martin Sunley. It's in a soft, keyboard-centred prog style which will be familiar to those who have heard Camel's 90's albums like "Dust and Dreams", which in turn had flavours of Marillion and Pink Floyd.
Telling a story of a teenage girl who runs away to the city, and eventually kills herself, it is bound to suffer in comparison to Marillion's far superior "Brave". In the five vocal numbers, there's not much time to relate much of a story, so he leaves it up to our imaginations to fill in the gaps during the instrumentals. When Sunley is in story telling mode, the instruments are cut right back to a quiet keyboard hum. His dead-pan voice is very similar to Rick Wright from Pink Floyd, and there's one moment ("In A Country") where he could have been mistaken for Fish.
The instrumentals have that traditional light symphonic rock sound, lots of soaring guitar solos and keyboard orchestral textures. Simmonds' keyboard sounds are generally tasteful and there's not too much cod-orchestra. His playing sometimes reminds me of Tony Banks in his more classical mode. Especially on the finger-twitching overture "Gone", which has some lovely solo synth emoting over a perpetual-motion piano arpeggio. The dynamics of his composing is well controlled, so this album makes a pleasing, although fairly lightweight, listen, right up to the emotional climax "A Wake".
February 5, 2005