Transcript of Natasha Scharf's review in Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine (June 2011).
Moving to Scotland in 2008 has audibly been an inspirational journey for Midlands musician Al Fleeman, who has taken the 17th century Celtic folk song The Water is Wide and turned its melody into a nine-track conceptual release of progtastic proportions. Coloured with remote Scottish landscapes, vibrant history and tales of renowned locals, this evocative solo project captures the sheer beauty of some of the area's most tranquil locations through electronic and orchestral instrumentation. The stories behind each song are illustrated in the album's inlay and the whole project serves its purpose as the soundtrack to one man's research and observations – even those few military-orientated memories are made benign through serene soundscapes that transform them into breathtaking passages.
With his background in prog-rock and composition, Fleeman achieves just the right balance between symphonic, ambient, layered electronics and jazz. Each song on The Water is Wide Variations paints just one section of a memorable aural picture that's best savoured in its entirety. Culminating with the blissed-out closing number Stars, which clocks in at around 15 minutes, it seems the musician's relocation has paid off in terms of musical inspiration and one hopes he'll continue to be similarly inspired for future works.