I’ve been into Big Big Train since they were giving away mp3s on their website many years ago. I have a two track sampler (home made) from the “Bard” album. Yet despite all of that, I wouldn’t say that I LOVE them. I like them okay but a love for them has seemed to elude me for whatever reason. Yet album after album, I venture back to them to try some more.
There is no denying their talent and that is certainly the draw for me. The lineup is stellar and has grown and grown over the years. Adding ex-Spock’s Beard drummer Nick D’Virgilio and Gungfly/Beardfish mainman Rikard Sjöblom have been more reasons to keep me interested. I will say that each album has been better than the last, for me anyway. So here we are once again. Is “Grand Tour” the album that I have been waiting for? Yes!
So why did “Grand Tour” hit me so hard? The first single “Alive” is one of the tracks I really like. Most times in the past when BBT does a more “radio friendly” track, the song would seem very light weight and cheesy. “Make Some Noise” is an example. “Alive” is very catchy and uplifting, yet somehow avoids the watered down cheesiness of past efforts.
Another factor is the epics on “Grand Tour” are all exceptional songs. “Roman Stone,” “Ariel” and especially “Voyager” are well structured and build really well. They all sound natural and organic and not overly pastoral like past epics. Another winner is the NDV written instrumental “Pantheon” which just kicks ass. Something BBT needed! “Homesong” makes for a nice closer with it starting folky before taking flight.
“Grand Tour” is an album that is great all the way through. The song writing of singer David Longdon and bassist/founder Greg Spawton are in top form and the addition of drummer Nick D’Virgilio to the songwriting has just made BBT that much stronger. It’s a shame that Rikard Sjöblom didn’t add any songs to the mix but perhaps the next outing. For now, “Grand Tour” has me more excited in Big Big Train than I have ever been and I’ll probably go back through the catalog for another look.
1. Novum Organum
3. The Florentine
4. Roman Stone
6. Theodora in Green and Gold
Label: English Electric
Release Date: 17 May 2019