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The Gift - Why The Sea Is Salt album review

An absorbing musical carnival from the London symph-rockers, The Gift

This is close to being a masterpiece. An album of beautifully constructed musical journeys which touch on Genesis, Jethro Tull and Barclay James Harvest, yet also have a life of their own. The way in which the guitars of Dave Lloyd and Leroy James intertwine with the keyboards from Gabriele Baldocci is, at times, breathtaking.

It all comes together best on The Tallest Tree, which has appearances from Steve Hackett, Anthony Phillips and Tiger Moth Tales’ Peter Jones (the last on an Irish whistle) – and for once, the presence of high profile guests isn’t vanity, but a crucial part of what makes the track so inspirational. The timbre throughout is sedate, ambient and majestic. You can feel the flowing beauty on the rustic Sweeper Of Dreams and the quasi-religious All These Things.

And all six tracks leave the impression of a band who’ve grown into a style that might hark back to the epic days of the early 70s, yet never allows the nostalgic glow to become the dominant flicker. But what holds The Gift back are Mike Morton’s lead vocals. They lack the gravitas and depth the music demands. With a stronger singer, there’s no doubt this would be essential.