Artist: Aunt Mary
Album: New Dawn
Label: Chauncey Street Entertainment LLC
Release Date: 02/16/2016
Aunt Mary keeps on rolling; the 1970s Norwegian prog-rock powerhouse is sallying forth into a New Dawn with only one founding member, guitarist Bjorn Kristiansen, left to carry the flag.
Struck by tragedy and unexpected departures in recent years, the biggest blow being the death of original singer Jan Groth in 2014, the newly reconfigured Aunt Mary is now fronted by the 2007 Norwegian “Idol” winner, Glenn Lyse. Another of Norway’s musical heroes, TNT guitarist Ronni Le Tekro, has made it his personal mission to keep Aunt Mary, which first split in 1973, alive, the fruits of their labor harvested in New Dawn, a time capsule of heavy, blues-fired progressive rock begging to be opened.
Echoes of contemporaries, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull and Ten Years After reverberate throughout a record refreshingly free of prog’s inscrutable excesses and symphonic bombast. Pushed and pulled in different directions, with its shapely bass lines, tough vocals, meaty guitar riffs and oddly spiraling solos, New Dawn grits its teeth through hard funk workouts, “Unconditional Love” and “Blind Date,” and grinds out “Slave Parade,” as “Happily Ever After” creeps along in the dark.
Tribal beats, a little electronica and fried guitar make “G Flat Road” sizzle like a bug zapper, while the exotic “Soldadera” is Aunt Mary at its most cinematic and chirping birds pass over the acoustic hymn “Open Your Eyes,” making for an eclectic album that hasn’t the slightest interest in chasing trends.