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Alan Reed

First in A Field of One

Review by Alison Reijman

The past two years have been a real step into the unknown for former Pallas frontman Alan Reed who parted company from the band nearly three years ago in acrimonious fashion. So, rather than disappear from the scene to lick his wounds, Reed has come storming back first with the EP Dancing With Ghosts last year that featured five songs, three reworked old favourites - and two new ones, “Teardrops In The Rain” and “Begin Again,” both of which are on First In A Field Of One.

Produced by Reed and Mike Stobbie with Karl Groom assisting, this album shows Reed to be on top form creatively, musically and vocally. However, unlike his previous body of work with Pallas, this is not a hard and heavy album. It is undoubtedly a very personal album through which Reed takes a microscopic look at his feelings and emotions following the split and pays homage to his native Scotland through a broad Celtic vibe running all the way through the album.

Reed’s song writing talents are very much to the fore along with some carefully crafted musical arrangements that are ideal vehicles for highlighting his wonderful and distinctive voice. The only criticism is that the album (at just over 40 minutes) is a little on the short side.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Begin Again

This gets the album off to a rousing start with an acoustic guitar-led melody studded with Celtic overtones, the lyrics reflecting thoughts on his country of birth. It crackles with life and energy through a combination of synths, choppy keyboards and a huge percussive beat from Pendragon’s Scott Higham.  A change in tempo heralds in some gorgeous keyboards from fellow ex-Pallas member, Mike Stobbie, with Reed’s voice beautifully pitched over the top.

Kingdom of the Blind
Here is one of this reviewer’s favourite songs of 2012. Jangling acoustic guitar, a subtle beat and Jeff Green’s resonant guitar all play along as the song unwinds, Reed’s voice restrained throughout as the electric and acoustic guitars tell the musical story in the mix. Building steadily, synths are added and then Green’s guitar takes off, swooping and looping over the melody.  Then it slows right down and there alongside Reed is lovely voice of Christina Booth of Magenta. Their voices blend beautifully for the brief time they unite. The video is also worth viewing on YouTube.
Never Too Late
“Never Too Late” has Reed starting the song at his most tender over a tempered acoustic guitar. The melody does remind you momentarily of Morris Albert’s “Feelings” and there is a fabulous piano running alongside it. Again, the drama of his song unfolds through dreamy synths which cushion the delicate melody as Reed’s voice gathers momentum. Then Kalle Wallner comes in with the most deliciously emotive guitar solo that lifts the song to an entirely different level of aural delight. Reed lifts up his voice again for a huge finish.
The Bottom of the Bottle
This continues the acoustic folkie vibe with only a subtle organ playing under Reed’s plaintive voice before strings suddenly appear.
Darkness Has Spoken
Here is Reed’s song about his feelings concerning the parting from Pallas. It has an almost delicate vibe to start with before Green’s guitar heralds a change of mood to a much darker place before it reverts back a piano and acoustic guitar. There is a great sense of pain reading between the lines of this number as it twists and turns through anger, frustration and an underlying synth which does have a resonance from the past. But it is a song of redemption and the end reaches a much more positive conclusion: “The Darkness has gone.”
The Real Me
Acoustic guitar and piano underscored by Higham’s percussion open “The Real Me,” again with an understated synth. Reed asserts himself vocally in dramatic fashion before a searing guitar solo and the song then takes a new rhythm with synths and guitars in the forefront.
Teardrops In The Rain
Higham’s high up in the mix for “Teardrops in the Rain,” another flowing river of a song with gentle guitar, synth, piano and Reed totally in control vocally.
The Usual Suspects
Reed then brings it all to a close with the most surprising final track “The Usual Suspects,” which is a little swing number complete with finger clicks, jazzy piano and a big swagger about it. Christina Booth provides the scat singing backing line before it takes off into a huge swirl of synthy organ and huge beat. The song is about being faced with your demons, a recurring theme throughout the album. Those finger clicks and piano return before Reed ends literally on a very high note.
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