Sunsets on Empire

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Returning to a label following several years of releasing his material independently, Sunsets On Empire is Fish's third, full-length album of originals. Although failing to restore the ex-Marillion leader to the commercial heights achieved by his former band, it's a solid entry into his catalog. As usual, the subject matter balances the personal ("Goldfish & Clowns," "Change Of Heart") with songs addressing larger issues (the seething "The Perception Of Johnny Punter). The most successful of the former is the dreamy "Tara" (about his daughter), while the percussive, Middle Eastern-flavored "Jungle Ride," detailing urban decay, and Hammond-driven "Brother 52," which examines paranoia about the government, fare best of the latter. Typical of Fish's work, there is a wonderful sense of musical dynamics on Sunsets On Empire and, as he's in fine voice here, it will surely please long-time fans. As for newcomers, their interest will probably be tempered by how much latitude they will allow for lyrics that sometimes are unfocused and overreaching.

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