Look At You Now by The Flower KingsRelease date: September 8, 2023
Label: InsideOut Music
For nearly 30 years The Flower Kings have been taking music to various time changes, symphonic rides, killer bass work, harmonies, extended lengths, and polyrhythmic textures. For Roine Stolt who has been around performing with bands and artists such as Kaipa, Transatlantic, The Sea Within, and collaborating with Yes frontman Jon Anderson, he’s been around since day one.
Originally as Stolt’s touring band and named after his 1994 third solo album, he has kept The Flower Kings going. Through various line-up changes, guest musicians, and with 15 studio albums, followed by four live albums, four official bootlegs, four fan-club albums, two compilations, and two Kingdom of Colours box sets, Stolt keeps the machine going.
The band’s sixteenth release Look At You Now is a beautiful and spectacular follow-up to their previous release By Royal Decree as they bring in the story-complex visuals, returning to the ‘70s sound by digging out your old LPs from the Vertigo, Neon, Deram, and Charisma years during its golden-era where prog was at its peak.
And to be allowed to have iamthemorning’s Marjana Semkina, Samla Mammas Manna’s Hasse Brunjusson, keyboardist Lalle Larsson, singer / songwriter Jannica Lund, and nylon guitarist Jörgen Sälde, they know they work together as a team. Not as a prog group, but more like a family.
The opening track ‘Beginner’s Eyes’ goes into a lullaby fanfare by taking listeners into dreamland with soaring organ textures, epic fanfares, and nods to Starcastle before going into a mystical synthio landscape to ‘The Dream’ that has pop-flavored scenario which speaks of unsung Canadian prog heroes, Klaatu’s first two studio albums.
Then it’s a direct nod to Muse’s Origin of Symmetry with an operatic form by visiting the ‘Hollow Man’ in the forms of ‘Feeling Good’ which was originally sung by female jazz legend Nina Simone, followed by some Beach Boy harmonies. Heading back to the magic carpet and floating upwards to the heavens, ‘Dr. Ribedeaux’ is by your side, featuring heavy percussions and some accordion work to the bone.
‘Seasons End’ sees The Flower Kings walk into the deep, dark tunnels of King Tut as he gives us some melancholic time changes and wah-wah beauty in the highs and lows across unsolved mysteries that is hidden. Elsewhere ‘Stronghold’ brings to mind Spring’s ‘The Prisoner (Eight By Ten)’ as Roine goes into the Neon label with a darker, but tending a reach towards the light at the end of the tunnel.
Once Marjana comes to the march for a brand-new day with ‘Day For Peace’, there is hope. Militant themes, loss of a loved one, country-tinged tear drops, gospel organ string sections, Marjana transformers herself into a younger version of Crystal Gayle and Emmylou Harris whilst bringing the song into a certain hope for a better future that awaits us.
The Flower Kings have really come a long way to prove their fans and listeners that they still got it. And with its surroundings throughout their new album, its one of their theatrical movies brought to life on the silver screen.