Having finally shed the Victorian clothes of Henry Hyde Bronsdon, former A Forest Of Stars guitarist Duncan Evans is now firmly focused on his solo career, which got off to a good start with the 2013 full length Lodestone. Compared to those beginnings, the folk vein of the English musician has moved towards a form of singer-songwriting even more advanced, within which you can find the most disparate sources of inspiration of which I gladly leave the identification to the sensitivity and knowledge of each, because every song of this beautiful work, entitled Prayers For An Absentee, must be listened to and assimilated without any conditioning. Evans has a personal style and it’s clear that if iconic personalities such as Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen can sometimes flash in the imagination of each listener, this is due to the fact that nothing is created or destroyed, and the ability of the artist of superior depth is precisely that of modeling and giving new shapes to pre-existing forms. If the opener Bring Your Shoulder proves to be enthralling since its incipit and chorus (it’s not by chance that the song was chosen to shoot a video), that vein of joy that one tends to perceive is actually completely illusory, since the lyrics, cultured, introspective and deep, go in a completely different direction, marrying even better with the touching lyricism of songs like Us And Them And You And Me, I Know and Christabel, but we’re only talking about the episodes I prefer because they are closer to a personal feeling; Poppy Tears is no less impressive thanks to a melodic structure of astonishing fluidity, and the same Borderlands Prayer, Trembling and Time are songs that alone would ennoble any other work. Although the imprint is that of a solo project, Duncan Evans makes full use of the support of a real band, made up of musicians who enhance the inspired songwriting that makes him, today, one of the most credible and effective artists able to pick up the baton from those giants mentioned above; such a landing, after all, can only surprise those who continue to think that musicians with a metal background are an indistinct jumble of illiterate bores. Beyond the genre fences, Prayers For An Absentee finds its right of citizenship within MetalEyes simply because it is one of the most beautiful and intense records released this year, and this is enough to recommend it to those who incessantly rummage in the bottomless pit containing the new releases, in order to get something of great emotional impact.

2018 – Prophecy Productions