What do you do when you lose the element that set your band apart?

Eleven years have passed since the tragic death of Stuart Adamson, the man whose characteristic guitar sound and charismatic stage presence were, for so many fans, the essence of Big Country.

I have no problem with some members of the band, even while retaining the box-office draw of their original name, using those distinctive elements sparingly to knock their own identity into shape. But the songs on this first studio album for 14 years are unforgivably poor, weighed down by middle-aged rock clichés in words and music. Certain titles are but pale imitations of past glories: Another Country is not In A Big Country; The Journey is not The Crossing.

Vocalist Mike Peters is the weakest link, over-emoting every line. Elsewhere, however, Bruce Watson and son Jamie ably rekindle the bagpipe blood-stir of old (perhaps it's time that Watson senior was given more credit for establishing the sound first time round) and Mark Brzezicki's drumming has lost none of its urgency, working well with the sturdy depth of former Simple Minds man Derek Forbes's bass work.