Wishbone Ash, one of the important and influential rock bands in music history, will celebrate their 50th anniversary with the release of their consummate new studio album, ‘Coat Of Arms’, on February 28th 2020 on Steamhammer/SPV as a DigiPak CD, double 140 gram black vinyl Gatefold LP, download and stream.
‘Coat Of Arms’, while still heavily featuring Wishbone Ash’s characteristic twin lead guitar licks, haunting melodies and distinctive stylistic facets, is anything but retrospective and evenly balances the past, present and future with a huge breath of fresh air. Lead single ‘We Stand As One’, which is complemented with a vibrant video clip shot at the band’s recent packed-out Islington 02 Academy concert on October 17th, is set to more than whet the musical appetite when released on January 31st. Founder member, guitarist and vocalist Andy Powell proudly describes the track as “A real heavy rock anthem in the spirit of Wishbone Ash classics such as ‘The Warrior’, featuring awesome guitar sounds that our fans will love.” Check the video out at www.youtube.com/watch?v=87_t4ElxEfY&feature=youtu.be
As so often, the secret of a compositionally impeccable album is the homogenous bond between band members, and never is this more evident than on ‘Coat Of Arms’. For many years Andy Powell has been able to rely on the highly intuitive and harmonious rhythm section of bassist Bob Skeat and drummer Joe Crabtree, to whom the immanent Wishbone Ash DNA has become second nature. The band have also been reinforced for the last three years by new addition Mark Abrahams, a young guitarist whose impressive finger-technique and unbridled musical enthusiasm infused the eleven new songs. “Mark has brought two important factors to the band: youthfulness and energy, a little like when somebody injects you with a strong stimulant,” grins Powell. “What’s more, he learnt the guitar by playing along to Wishbone Ash since the age of nine. Mark is a fan and knows some of our songs better than I do.” So it comes as no surprise that the two guitarists make an excellent songwriting duo; Powell: “For example, Mark came up with the basic idea for ‘It´s Only You I See’, a number that to him is a kind of homage to ‘You Rescue Me’ from our ‘New England’ album.”
Both ‘We Stand As One’, which focusses on the catastrophic wildfires in the Amazon rainforest and the urgent need for global climate protection, and ‘When The Love Is Shared’ are timeless rock songs with strong hooks, gritty melodies and driving grooves. ‘Empty Man’ meanwhile, presents Wishbone Ash from their folk-inspired side, and album finale ‘Personal Halloween’ sees the band venture into relatively new pastures; “The number with it’s sleazy-funky flair could have originated in New Orleans in this or a similar style” (Powell).
While stylistically diverse, ‘Coat Of Arms, is also typical of Wishbone Ash’s traditional strengths, a balancing act that is a challenge to Powell every time the band enter the studio. “Following the countless songs that we have written throughout the history of Wishbone Ash, my own expectations are extremely high. On the one hand as a composer you try not to repeat yourself in your creative output but to come up with new ideas all the time, on the other you want to remain faithful to your style. Good songs need an inner conviction and the right inspiration. We had both when we started working on ‘Coat Of Arms’. You’d be right in describing the current line-up as the best in the history of Wishbone Ash. We all love our lives as musicians, the direct contact with our fans, travelling, the shows, our songs. It’s that commitment by everybody involved that you hear in every single note on ‘Coat Of Arms’.”