Fish - Field Of Crows
This latest offering from everyone's favorite prog-rock Scotsman is something of a unexpected treat. It has to be said that Fish has one of the most unique and powerful voices in rock music. Instantly recognizable, it's soft enough to sooth yet still manages to convey a sense of menace and edge that hints at darker things hidden beneath the surface of the songs. It's a sense that you'll encounter at many times through this dark little ride of an album.
Musically, Field Of Crows is a rich and complex album. Most of the songs scream 'epic' from start to finish and have the sort of grandeur to them that lent his work with Marillion a solid sort of quality that made them such a joy to listen too. But we digress, for this is very much a Fish solo album, and you can sense his hand in the production and songwriting at every level. Opening track, The Field sets you up for this very nicely and is simply wonderful in its opening simplicity which builds layer by layer into the sort of song that begs for a live performance with it's sweeping chorus.
Again, for an example of the complexity of the songs, just listen to Innocent Party which starts out as a sort of driving, pounding rock anthem and finishes up on the sort of musical flourish that makes this album such a delight. It's one of the places where you'll encounter the sort of darkness that made State Of Mind such a powerful song. "Don't talk to me about justice, freedom, truth and democracy" half-sneers Fish, and you sense a deep sense of betrayal behind the song. It achieves the impossible, by making a seven minute song sound like a two and a half minute one.
Elsewhere, you'll encounter a solid blues influence, such as on the witty Zoo Class and buzzing guitars, such as on The Rookie. It's one of those albums that's impossible to adequately categorize, as there is the sense that the music is merely a vehicle for the vocal style and delivery of Fish and that's probably right and as it should be. Fish is, amongst many things, a fine songwriter, and although it would be a mistake to call this a concept album, there are certain themes that arise again and again. One is ambition talent and the gulf often between them. Another is failure and fear of failure. Listen to Moving Target, with its chorus of "When you're running the field, you become a moving target" in which modern life is neatly juxtaposed with the jungle theme which is, in turn, satirized in Zoo Class. It's satisfyingly deep stuff.
Field Of Crows is highly recommended to anyone who misses the Fish of old. They will find much to delight themselves with within its grooves. For anyone else, if you simply want a good, solid rock album with a bit more thought gone into the songs than usual, then you too are urged to give it a try. Fish is a wonderful front man, a superb singer and master songwriter. Be glad he's still around.
Not in the shops yet, but you can buy one now from the official Fish website, here.