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White Willow: Future Hopes
White Willow Future Hopes CD Album Review

White Willow: Future Hopes

Melodic Progressive Rock
4.0/5.0

After an absence of six years, Norway's White Willow returns with a new album, Future Hopes. Formed by multi-instrumentalists Jacob Holm-Lupo and Mattias Olsson, they bring in some new members for the new album. Vocals are provided by notable Norwegian pop solo artist Venke Knutson. She first appeared in Holm-Lupo's other project, The Opium Cartel. Celebrated Norwegian guitarist Hedvig Mollestad provides guitar solos on several songs.

White Willow Band Photo

White Willow

As for Future Hopes, musically speaking, White Willow doesn't stray far from the road they've been on. Their melodic progressive rock is an eclectic blend of the same with parts of art and experimental rock, jazz fusion, light orchestration, ethereal and electronic retro Synthwave keys, and then generally and naturally wrapped in complex arrangements. Then there's somewhat of that psychedelic theme within as well, like Yes on acid. Yet, there are some slight differences from past recordings. The vocals are light and gentle like a leaf lilting on the wind. There's also larger instrumental parts, notable in the two longer songs, In Dim Days and A Scarred View. Within those songs the tricky jazz-like guitar lines compete with electronic and ethereal wizardry of the Blade Runner synth, the Yamaha CS80. I think of all these things I was mostly impressed by Mollestad's guitar work.

The album features two bonus tracks, the original tune Damnation Valley and the cover of Scorpions' Animal Magnetism. With the former, you might think something heavier was coming but you would be wrong. It's light and mellow, mostly acoustic guitar and piano. As for the Scorpions song, the White Willow version makes it sound even stranger than the original (which, for a Scorpions song, I always thought sucked anyway). The real highlight of this interpretation is the Klezmer clarinet solo by renowned and Grammy Award winning clarinetist David Krakauer.

In the end, my conclusions about Future Hopes are nearly the same as with the previous Terminal Twilight, so I paraphrase myself. White Willow's Future Hopes is certainly interesting music, sometimes skirting the line between profound and inexplicable. Unfortunately those things don't make White Willow and their music all that accessible. But, such is the case with art, even eclectic and experimental melodic progressive rock. Prepare to be both challenged and intrigued.

White Willow - Future Hopes



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The Bottom Line

White Willow's Future Hopes is certainly interesting music, sometimes skirting the line between profound and inexplicable. Unfortunately those things don't make White Willow and their music all that accessible. But, such is the case with art, even eclectic and experimental melodic progressive rock. Prepare to be both challenged and intrigued.

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