The Gift - Why The Sea Is Salt album review

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

The Gift - Why The Sea Is Salt album cover

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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.

Malcolm Dome

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He died in 2021