Heal the Last Stand : Mighty River2015 : Everybody Wants Peace Records
Heal the Last Stand are a great live act - all ebbing and flowing drifts of perfect West coast harmonies, keyboard and acoustic guitars; they describe themselves accurately as 'echoing the deep sentiments of the Summer of Love, with an ocean of harmony like Crosby, Stills & Nash meets First Aid Kit'
Wrexham based, they coalesced into a group in 2007 - made up of three siblings, Joey, Stan & Laura Dickenson, and long time friend Thom Bithell. All four of them sing, and the sweeping and soaring harmonies that they produce together have become their musical signature.
Always committed to their live shows they paused to release an album, What Love is.., in 2009 and an EP, Peace is the Word, in 2010, but a studio administration contributed to delays that meant this second full length studio release was held back into 2015.
Mighty River is their first recorded outing with a full band (including a rhythm section); it has been worth the wait.
There are eight songs and no sense that any is filler - the first trio are all standouts - opening with the Mighty River which meanders gently but magificiently, followed by Heaven, which is an effective piece of upbeat country pop, then the piano based Your Song - an open hearted beatific band manifesto with a Sgt. Peppers era Beatles feel to its melody and sound.
Further in the highlights include The Gathering, which has an infectious early 70s acoustic summer pop mood, and the final track Sweet Dreams, featuring a simple guitar and piano backing for Laura's voice - a lovely quiet lullaby of a song.
Mighty River benefits from the wider band input their earlier recordings lacked - the percussion gives extra shape to the songs - but it is the enduring harmonies that give them soul. Past recordings haven't always quite captured the magic of their live performances - this one does; the lyrics are as bucolic and pastoral as the songs are happy and uplifting - since 2007 Heal The Last Stand have been 'aiming to create music that makes people feel better'; this blissed out album succeeds in doing exactly that.
HEAL THE LAST STAND I Your Song (Live FOCUS Wales 2016)