By: Dennis Cook
Face it, most "acoustic" albums are little more than watered down versions of hits or well tread covers. In short,
polite, unchallenging filler. Not so with Marillion's acoustically slanted Less Is
More (released in U.S. on December 8 on Eagle Records), which rejiggers a carefully chosen, non-
obvious selection of older compositions, working the emotionally dense, often anthemic originals into warmly
caressed, fascinating new shapes.
Ranging from a shuffling, saucy reworking of "The Space" from 1989's Season's End to a new take on
"Wrapped Up In Time," originally on last year's excellent Happiness Is The Road (JamBase review),
Less Is More puts the old title axiom into practice, finding delicate yet never wispy newness hiding inside
familiar territory. By digging deep into their catalogue and consciously steering away from singles or dominant fan
favorites, Marillion has found some serious sweetmeat that makes one reassess these tunes in a wholly favorable
light. The occasional bit of electricity notwithstanding, Less Is More moves with the warm rush of acoustic
guitars, hammered dulcimer, piano, Glockenspiel, xylophone and hushed percussion, with Steve Hogarth's
voice prominent in the foreground – a fitting spot for one of the great under-celebrated singers of past 25 years, a
voice with the vibrating emotional timbre of Thom Yorke melded to the pop classicism of The Zombies' Colin
Since Hogarth's arrival in 1989 Marillion has been a model of high-end musicianship, quality songwriting, and
thoughtful construction in nearly every aspect of their work. The result is wonderfully accessible yet richly layered
work like Less Is More, where there's a strong sense of happy interaction with this music and one picks up
on the musicians' pleasure in discovering fresh inspiration in past efforts. At the stage where many bands lumber
along on auto-pilot, Marillion seems supercharged for tomorrow, even if they arrive their by way of yesterday.
Bonus: The U.S. edition of this release includes two bonus tracks including a great cover of Radiohead's "Fake
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