Back in 2008, I had the pleasure of reviewing Nine Stones Close’s debut St. Lo. Now in 2010, saw the release of Traces. The subject matter seems to be similar ,or a continuation, to the debut. Sometimes it requires a few “exorcisms” to truly cleanse the spirit. The cover is provided by Ed Unitsky, and fits perfectly with the subject matter. Ed has an amazing talent for picking out images for album covers and logos (see the logo on my site). I will let the listener have a “spoiler” free experience when looking at the cover art.
The mastermind behind Nine Stones Close is Adrian Jones (Guitars, bass, keyboards & programming) and joining him are Marc Atkinson (Vocals), Brendan Eyre (Keyboards) and Neil Quarrell (Bass). Together they create some beautifully haunting music form the opening track, “Reality Check” (4:59) which sets the tone of the entire album.
Next is the first ‘epic’ of the album called “Threads” (10:43), which features the some soft haunting vocals from Marc. You can feel the emotion of the vocals from the first word is sung. Marc has a rather unique voice, mainly because he sounds like no one else. This to me is one of the main ingredients of the album. It’s one of the ‘pillars’ of the overall structure.
Next we have a ‘ballad‘ called “Falling To Pieces” (6:15) which, again, features some haunting soft vocals. This song portrays a man that is literally ‘falling to pieces’. This also shows a man with a broken spirit due to some kind of tragedy in his life.
'Traces' (7:21) is another powerful track on this album. It’s about how we leave a “trace’ of ourselves on others. Again the music is in a ’ballad’ format and has a sense of hope within the lyrics. (At least that’s what I felt when I listened to the album each time.). Around the 5 minute mark the music is slowly kicking up a few notches which features quite possibly one of the most beautiful guitar solos I’ve heard in my life.
Closing off this amazing, emotional album is the epic, “Thicker Than Water” (14:57). The song while in long form is divided into four parts with the third part being the heaviest sounding on the entire album and one of my favorite parts. I purposely have refrained from revealing too much of the subject matter on this album. I did this primarily for those that don’t like read ‘spoilers’ in reviews.
For those that were fortunate enough, also received a bonus disc entitled Re-Traced which features another look with song titles like “Innersense”, “Threads (Rewoven)”, “Traces (Reconstructed)”, “Thicker Than Water (Instrumental Mix)” and a secret track, “Threads (Short)”. These show another side, pardon the pun, which retraces some of the emotions.
This has been one of the most enjoyable albums I’ve had the pleasure of listening to in 2010. Musically I hear influences of Porcupine Tree by way of Pink Floyd. I feel this album again has that ‘exorcists’ some sorrowful emotions throughout the album. Is there any resolution? I really don’t know. My verdict is two words, highly recommended. I should note that this album is a part of my Top 50 Favorite New releases of 2010.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on March 25th, 2011