Greg Northrup    3-November-2001 Paint a Picture

Paint a Picture is an early English proto-progressive album often considered one of the essential works of that particular scene. The album is very song-oriented with gobs of mellotron to supplement its enormous, grandiose melodic feel. On the other hand, I don't know how much this song-oriented style suits my tastes, as it features an emphasis on lyrics and vocals over instrumental work. Certainly, the material is generally quite soft and beautiful with very expressive vocals and a knack for very catchy themes. The most apt comparison out of the proto-prog stuff I've heard would be to Spring, whose album didn't blow me away either. Though the band does have its moments of dazzling beauty, a little more instrumental interplay would suit me just fine.

Still, the album features some great tracks, "Circus" has some phenomenal instrumental melodies close to the end, while "Politely Insane" just jumps out of the speakers with its up-tempo feel and gorgeous melodies. "Icy River" is another beauty, a very mellow song with a gradual build-up, great solos and very nice lyrics.

All in all, Paint a Picture is certainly an enjoyable album and a perfect addition for those into the British proto-progressive sound. Though it doesn't really hit all my hot spots, I recognize that there is certainly an audience out there who will love it. If you get off on the Spring album, you'll definitely want to grab this one, and I'd probably go so far as to call it essential for those who enjoy the style. Beautiful, melodic soft progressive with much to like, but not a classic for me personally.

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