1. The Last Of England
GORDON GILTRAP became a household name with his crossover and breakthrough enchanting hit (UK number 21-January 1978) “Heartsong” and over the past 40 years he has played his music in pretty much every kind of venue from the grandeur of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall to small halls where he relishes the challenge of where audiences are “up close and intimate”. In addition he is a Ivor Novello nominee and MIA Music Awards winner. RITCHIE BLACKMORE said “I Think that Gordon is one of the best acoustic guitar players in the world. He has always been ahead of his time”.
Gordon has teamed up with keyboard player/producer PAUL WARD who has a sizeable number of music production credits under his belt including a Xmas animation with David Jason and a drama mini series starring Martin Kemp, to produce his new album.
“The Last Of England” is an innovative new album that crosses several styles from prog to folk rock to pop to classical in the unique style that Gordon has developed and honed over his career.
Ford Madox Brown's haunting painting The Last Of England is the stunning cover of this limited edition vinyl album, 10 tracks that in the old days of prog rock, might have been called a suite. But it's hard to get a handle on the music. Paul Ward lays down glorious melodic washes of floating synth, creating ethereal backdrops for Giltrap's guitar work, always underrated and empathetic. And his neo-baroque licks mesh well with the grandeur of Ward's keyboard creations. The result is a a rolling ambient soundscape of much beauty. Peculiarly it's only at the end that you realise that there's nary a tune in sight.
This uplifting album takes its name from an 1855 oil painting - 'The Last Of England' by Ford Madox Brown. Both painting and record supply feelings of light & flight and deliver a promise of a better tomorrow beyond brush strokes and detailed liner notes.
There is much Greensleeves and Lavender Blue in folk tempo - a delightful dilly-dally - the whole album acts as a whole and although each of the fourteen tracks bear their own names, such as 'April Love' and 'Sadie In May', the default position is always the ever faultless, 'The Last Of England'. Highly recommended. 10/10
Mark Watkins (August 2017)
Giltrap remains one of the supreme folk guitar stylists of any era. This collaboration with keys meister Paul Ward brings out the best of both men. 'The Last Of England' is grounded by Ward's vast cinematic keyboard sweeps (redolent of his film and TV work), while Giltrap's intricate finger picking is pure English shires on a summer's day . Indeed several of the tunes, including the title track, might be lifted from a film score about the Pre-Raphaelite painters whose work inspires much of this album. Meditative ballads like 'This Father's Love' and the glorious hymn-like 'The Anna Fantasia' showcase Giltrap at his best.
Prog Magazine (April 2017)
All compositions and acoustic guitar work are by Gordon Giltrap while the keyboards (at least 16 types) are by Paul Ward. One is unlikely to distinguish between the various Moogs, Rolands and Mellotrons etc, but overall there is the effect of full orchestration without being overloaded.
Guitar carries the main tune each time and the guitars used were made by Roger Bucknell of Fylde Guitars except for a 3/4 sized instrument produced by Paul Brett of John Hornby Skewes. Giltrap's technique is well known and recognisable throughout this disk but the track 'Spring' is the most in his tradition.
Tracks 1 to 7 are reflections on famous Victorian Pre-Raphaelite paintings and are subtitled 'The Brotherhood Suite', the original paintings being described briefly in the liner notes. The 8 1/2 minute title track 'The Last Of England' is a well-balanced piece introducing this section while 'Work' provides a percussive, lively conclusion...
Pipeline Magazine (Spring 2017)
...Giltrap starts in harmony on the atmospheric 'April Love', accompanied by the Mellotron flute. Acoustic guitar provides sweet nostalgic efflorescence in the opening of 'From The Light Of The World', there are some programmed drums which are happily fleeting - the acoustic guitar, accompanied by a translucent orchestration quickly returns. 'Loren' offers guitar arpeggios, with an opening in the vein of Anthony Phillips. The resemblance is striking, with the same sense of beauty and shade. 'The Anna Fantasia' has dreamy guitar in the introduction, keyboards providing an atmospheric counterpoint. 'This Father's Love' begins with serene acoustic guitar, enhanced by a fine orchestration, offering a feeling of serenity...it should be noted that inspiration inhabits the entirety of this collection. A great success! 4/5 Stars
Highlands Magazine - Translated (March 2017)
Weaving silvery vignettes over a pastel backdrop, an unobtrusive mood-setter of sorts, the maestro's acoustic guitars project a lucid pastorale to enchant the listener, while the ivories delicately spill pointillist drops on the landscape and elevate the panorama of the title piece, and the entire "Brotherhood" suite, to a 3D-vista. A meditative "Ania's Dream" may suggest there's a new-age kind of slow motion on display, what with instrumental voices almost turning "Plas Oriel" into a maudlin song, but melancholy doesn't belong here: "The Anna Fantasia" is a solemn hymn, "Spring" a jovial minuet, and it takes "Work" to reveal a rock-minded contrast between drama and serenity. Still, Gordon's Gordian knot of folk tunes and prog sophistication & Ward's sentimental telepathy come to full fruition on "A Promise Fulfilled" with FAIRPORTS' Ric Sanders violin leading them towards cosmic dance.
If this is the future of Albion they're heading for, it's not the last we've seen of England: until artists exist there, it's going to rule aural waves. ****3/4
DMME.net (March 2017)
How can anyone fault the faultless? Anyone who's into what Giltrap brings to the table - acoustically or electronically - will be truly endeared by this release. And the team-up with producer Paul Ward, who supplies the keyboards and expansive backdrop to this album, is an inspired success. Beautiful and gentle in the main, sometimes folky but unmistakably Giltrap. If you're a fan or not, but appreciate acoustic guitar, this is most definitely your cup of English tea.
Classic Rock Magazine (March 2017)
...The delicate 'Ania's Dream' is a wonderful marriage of guitar sympathetically underpinned by church organ, whilst the liveliest track is saved to the very end. 'A Promise Fulfilled' sees Fairport's Ric Sanders adding his distinct violin, who along with Gordon and Paul offer a rousing conclusion to The Last Of England.
Gordon Giltrap and Paul Ward have produced something rather special here and a release that ranks very highly in the GG catalogue. The Last Of England is a wonderful testament to Gordon Giltrap and his music...
The Progressive Aspect (March 2017)
This is a different sort of album than what we're used to hearing from Great Britain's Angel Air label. A few years ago this probably would have been categorized as new age or world music. But in 2017, folks would probably just describe this as instrumental. Guitarist Gordon Giltrap has been making music for decades. He came to the attention of most of his fans with his 1978 hit "Heartsong." Ever since, he has continued playing for his ever-growing fan base. For this album, Giltrap teamed up with keyboard player/producer Paul Ward. Together, the two present some very subtle instrumentals that feature excellent gliding melodies and articulate arrangements. If there's a single word we would use to describe this music that word would be...inspired. Fourteen immaculate tracks here including "The Last of England," "April Love," "Sadie In May," and "A Promise Fulfilled."
babysue (February 2017)
Now Gordon has teamed up with keyboardist and producer Paul Ward to release an innovative new album that crosses several styles, from prog to rock to pop to classical, in the unique style that Gordon has developed and honed over his career.
Bev Bevan, Sunday Mercury (January 2017)
Giltrap and Ward serve up an attractive blend of old and new composition for your listening pleasure, including a suite of evocative instrumental pieces inspired by the significant pre-Raphaelite paintings hanging in the Birmingham Art Gallery, most notably 'All The Days Of May' and the epic title track.
Kevin Bryan, Regional Newspapers (January 2017)
Ward's arrangements are never intrusive but always complementary giving an extra dimension to Giltrap's solo guitar. It's evident a lot of thought has gone into this aspect, and the informative liner notes highlight the mutually shared inspiration. Fairport's Rick Sanders adds violin to the closing piece - and standout - 'A Promise Fulfilled'.
A great way to usher in 2017 and Angel Air's 20th anniversary. *****
Get Ready to ROCK! (January 2017)
The Last of England arrives here in early 2017 and signals a great start to the new year. Filled with memorable melodies and fantastic instrumentation, it's a can't miss instrumental album for anyone into folk based prog music with killer acoustic guitar work and symphonic keyboard arrangements. Well done guys!
Sea Of Tranquility (January 2017)