Saturday, 17 February 2018

Andy Sheppard Quartet - Romaria, album review

Peacefully Panoramic

Seeing Andy Sheppard and band in Bristol play much from this album certainly prompted keen anticipation for its release, and hearing opening track And a Day immediately rekindled the experience of mellowing to its atmospheric tone and pace, Elivind Aarset’s guitar soundscapes emerging in wafts of soft to fuller sounds over which Sheppard plays his characteristic breathy melodies. This is echoed in following track Thirteen, Seb Rochford's still muted drumming setting a processional beat, and here Sheppard playing with more distinct and crisp notes on the rise and fall of a simple but pretty melodic line. Aarset continues the ebb and flow of the guitar’s electronic pulsing, Michael Benita bringing the bass runs more to the fore. It is a beautiful, calming start. The third and title track introduces a wider palette both in terms of pace and all the instruments increasing in complexity, Sheppard’s soprano sax here dancing delightfully. Next Pop is another sweet melody, Aarset strumming chords and accompanying the melodic line so stepping out of the panoramic platforming of earlier. I do like the riff in sixth With Every Flower that Falls. For more energetic – a relative term – sax runs, penultimate All Becomes Again provides these, the tenor-dips into lower notes punctuating these with their gusto bursts. Closer Forever returns to the opening reflective style, though more expansive in the sax runs, and it rounds off a whole that is a peacefully caressing sound from a sublime quartet.


  1. Sheppard at the lyrical end of his spectrum. Seems a long time ago since I first saw him with Sphere at the the White Lion in Exeter (1983 if I was guessing). The boy done good since then. A very different set than the one I saw at the GW Hotel in St Ives last year: tunes from the Coltrane songbook. As visceral as this is ethereal.