I discovered Big Big Train with the release of the album The Underfall Yard in 2009. My first impression was that they were good, but they were reminding me of the after-Gabriel era of Genesis, that’s why I didn’t pay so much attention. Next, the albums English Electric Parts 1&2 were released, which were really beautiful ones. That was the point where I started paying attention to their music, and realized that it takes some time in order to fully “digest” and appreciate their music. And now, almost 3 years after English Electric Pt.2, Big Big Train returned with their brand new album named Folklore.
I have the album in my hands for just a few days, so consider this as a first impression, rather than a review.
Folklore, includes all the ingredients that characterize Big Big Train’s sound. The beautiful long compositions, the sad melodies, the “mellow” and melancholic overall coating, etc. I read in some reviews that in this album the band tried to blend Rock or - Progressive Rock if you like - with traditional English Folk. I’m sorry, but I don’t see that, with only very few exceptions. I consider myself as a “fan” of English Folk and Folk Rock music, and I was kind of looking forward to listen to this album for that reason. But the Folk elements are very few, in my opinion of course, and they pass unnoticed in most occasions.
The opening song is kind of a disappointing one, if you exclude the very impressive but small symphonic intro, and I don’t understand why the band chose this song as their first You Tube “release”.
Further than the opening song, the album gives a “massive” feeling, with very few ups and downs, but to my ears is obvious the absence of a very “strong” moment, like ‘Swan Hunter’ or ‘Hedgerow’ or even ‘Judas Unrepentant’ for example.
The compositions are in the usual high standards of Big Big Train, with the pleasant surprise being the variety of instruments that has been used. The line-up members are no less than 8, plus 8 more session musicians playing a really big variety of instruments, which there is no reason to mention here.
As for my favourite songs, so far are: London Plane, Wassail and The Transit of Venus Across the Sun.
I feel the need to listen to Folklore a few more times in order to have a more thorough opinion, but so far these are my thoughts more or less.
As for my rating, I don’t think I would give more than 3 out of 5 stars.
By clicking on the following link you will be able to see Folklore's trailer.