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Fluffhouse's passionate review of All About Eve's "Touched By Jesus" Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 December 2003
Originally published at http://www.fluffhouse.org.uk/musicreviews/album.php?albumid=7

After this was released and disappointingly flopped, this was the beginning of the end for All About Eve. They got dumped by their label, went elsewhere to rush out the forgotten (but listenable) "Ultraviolet", before eventually breaking up. But it was a travesty that "Touched By Jesus" disappeared into obscurity. At the time of writing, it's even been deleted by Amazon.

They were at the peak of their creativity, with a new guitarist (The Church's Marty Willson-Piper), a top producer (Warne Livesey) and had just written and recorded almost 2 albums' worth of material. On the basis of the first two tracks which were released as singles, they were trashed by the press as bland over-produced guitar-pop in the mould of Fleetwood Mac. Maybe it just came at the wrong time. But listening more deeply uncovers a wealth of great material on this album.

With former guitarist Tim Bricheno's departure, they moved away from their former distinctive combination of goth and folk. Marty's inventive guitar style brings their sound a new freshness. For example, listen to the manic Spanish twiddling on "Farewell Mr. Sorrow", the funky wah-wah of "The Dreamer", the soaring psychedelic soloing on "Rhythm of Life", or the folk mandolin of "Ravens". Julianne Regan's vocals are assured and up-front, with plenty of ethereal self-harmonising, and the lyrics are as flowery as ever but with a new positive enthusiasm.

Admittedly "Strange Way", "Share it with Me", and the outrageously cheerful "Farewell Mr. Sorrow" are straightforward adult pop, but there's an endearing confidence to the songwriting. "Wishing the Hours Away" plunges us into an unashamed piece of ethereal psychedelia, helped by a few licks from Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. The title track meanders a little on top of Mark Price's insistent percussion, but it is held together by a solid chorus.

Their prog-rock leanings come to the front in the "Hide Child". This begins as a dark and brooding song with spooky percussion and quiet guitar splashes. But with masterful timing it eventually bursts forth into an orchestral climax, which ebbs away suddenly into another verse. The strings return as Julianne's breathy voice croons "slow down..." "Ravens" is a twisted and inventively-produced song, coloured with folky mandolin and fiddle.

But the most unjustly ignored masterpiece here is "Are You Lonely", a wrenchingly emotional orchestral ballad. Its lyrics are a timeless expression of isolation. The powerful chorus is coloured with an inspired three-note piano theme, and its finale is arranged with unrestrained lushness. David Gilmour's fluent soloing fits in perfectly. I wonder whether they or their label missed an opportunity for a huge hit with this song.

As for the album's drawbacks, well, they could have chosen a less drippy (and misleading) album title. The only weak song is really "The Mystery We Are" - they had several decent B-sides (such as "Elizabeth of Glass") that could have taken its place.

9 out of 10

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