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Needlepoint- Walking Up That Valley (2021 Stickman Records)

It’s 2021; when you were born in the ’80s like me, growing up with movies like Back To The Future and Mad Max, it definitely sounds futuristic and far away. And yet, here we are: no flying cars, no dystopian wasteland (not yet, anyways), and musicians haven’t been replaced by robots. On the contrary! When you start listening to this new album by Needlepoint it’s almost as if the past sixty years have never existed at all…

Walking Up That Valley is a lovely record if you love spinning your old prog and folkrock albums. Albums like the first couple of Yes records, or Gentle Giant’s not too heavy progressive noodlings. It’s music like a warm blanket; familiar, cozy, non-offensive, polite, even. That almost sounds off-putting, like there is no edge to their sound, but I really mean it in the most positive sense. Nor is it fair to just mention the retro aspects of Needlepoint. For as their sound is firmly rooted in the 70s, there is an indie side to them that would perhaps just as easily link them to a band like Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and of course to the mellower works of their fellow Norsemen Motorpsycho.

And then there is the drummer. Olaf Olsen is, very much in line with the rest of the band, a jazz beast in disguise. Just check out opener Rules Of A Madman, where all seems merry and steady at the start of the song, but later on something stirs in the air and then he just bursts into a jaw-dropping drum fill that sets the whole scene on fire. To be honest, the rest of the musicians are top of their game too, but I keep returning for those jazzy drum fills…

From the hand-drawn artwork depicting a man being picked up by ants, to the different shades of retro prog in the music, Walking Up That Valley makes me happy. These highly skilled musicians and their artistic fire are just the spirit-lifting these dire times need.

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