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Jack Foster III

Tame Until Hungry

Review by Gary Hill

Jack Foster III is building up quite a catalog of killer hard-edged modern progressive rock. Tame Until Hungry is his latest, and as in the past he’s joined by (among others) Trent Gardner and Robert Berry on this. The disc is another killer slab of modern prog delivered with power and passion.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
No Tears Left For Cryin'
A tasty acoustic guitar ballad approach makes up the main song structure on this one. At about two and a half minutes it feels like it might explode up into more hard rocking styles. Instead Foster just adds a little oomph to the general motif that’s already in place. After the three minute mark this turns a corner into a killer neo-prog arrangement that’s both emotional and powerful. The vocal performance on this whole cut is stellar. This is a great way to start the disc in fine fashion. This has an extended lyrical quote from Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle.” The final line of the quote is, “There’s a solution.” With the next track entitled “The Solution,” how can you miss?
The Solution
This powers out with a fusion fury that’s a stark contrast to the last number. While this track rocks a lot harder, it’s got echoes of Kansas on the mix and string instrumentation lends an almost classical nature to the composition. The vocals at times remind me a bit of the Doobie Brothers. It turns decidedly more gritty as it carries on, but then shifts back to mellow keys for a time. The vocals at times in this later section remind me a bit of Lou Gramm. They move it out to a hard rocking groove later on. The layered vocals later on are a cool touch. It moves through a series of changes later with the arrangement calling to mind something from Yes’ The Yes Album in the way it keeps reworking and revitalizing a recurring musical theme. This section ends the track.
Civilized Dog
In a total change of pace a down home blues motif leads this off and the vocals come in over this style. It moves out to a more mainstream rock sound after a verse. While this doesn’t have a lot of progressive rock in the arrangement, they do shift it out into some jazz like sounds later and there are some intriguing changes.
One Dark Angel
It starts off with a balladic guitar based sound. Rather soon it shifts out into a more unique arrangement. Then they shift out to more traditional prog, but it drops back to a rather retro sounding, bluesy texture. Then a guitar solo screams out over the top of the arrangement. This turns more prog-like later and then shifts out into a killer horn solo as it twists into a very jazz-inspired arrangement.
Mourning Glory
The intro here is rather Rush-like. It drops from there to more balladic textures, but then builds back up to more musical landscape that could feel in line with Geddy Lee and company. They drop it back again, then scream back out in a powered up and intense progressive rock arrangement. They work it through a number of variations on these general themes, dropping down and cranking it back up here and there. This is one of the more dynamic tracks on show and is also one of the stronger ones.
Bloodstone
This one comes up as a ballad sort of tune. In fact the first verse on this one is delivered in a more gentle manner than pretty much any other vocals on the CD. This shifts out at first in a jazzy prog approach, then kicks into something that feels to me a bit like the more hard rocking portions of Christopher Cross’ musical catalog. It works through a number of changes, getting more towards the mellow jazz end of the spectrum at times. Then it kicks up to a smoking guitar solo segment that is purely on fire. They drop it back after that to the Christopher Cross section and then work it back up from there again. A cool prog rock excursion takes it after that and they fire out into a smoking prog jam that has a lot in common with Emerson Lake and Palmer, but also with fusion. the closing section here is fiery prog rock in a great jam.
Broken Hallelujah
Rising up ever so gradually, this has some shared ground with Pink Floyd at first. Then it moves out to an acoustic guitar based ballad approach. It builds up slowly from there. We get a rousing melody that has elements of both classic prog and modern textures. The vocal arrangement on this is incredible. The musical textures that come in on this are equally stellar. In fact, I’d chalk this one up as my favorite track on the CD. It turns out into a fast paced, almost DT-like jam later and twists towards metallic sounds from there. This becomes a total screamer, but then returns to the more melodic sounds from whence it came. The music drops back to the balladic again before rising once more to the more full progressive rock arrangement. Some tasty guitar soloing comes over this time.
Heart And Mind
Dramatic keys lead things off and then it drives out into more balladic prog sounds. An acoustic guitar ballad approach takes it for the first verse. Then they power it out into some powerful progressive rock to carry forward. This moves through a serious of variations and alterations in another potent arrangement. While not the most dynamic cut on here, this a strong one.
Inside My Mind
Mysterious keyboard textures start this off. As the vocals enter they come over the keyboard backdrop. It gains more traditional balladic stylings as it carries forward, but there are other elements there, as well, lending a new depth and atmosphere to it. It powers up a bit more as it moves forward. This takes on triumphant rocking modes. They create some intriguing patterns of melody and sound before dropping it back to the balladic stylings again. This is an extremely powerful and beautiful song. The acoustic guitar solo late in the track is killer.
Limbo And Flux
Another acoustic ballad styling starts this off. Those modes hold it for a time. After a verse, keyboards come in along with some other textures to add a new drama and power to the motif. It powers out more into hard rocking sounds later. They don’t move far away from the origins in terms of melody, but in terms of arrangements and instrumentation it works quite well towards generating interest. Lead instruments soar over the backdrop after a while. This climaxes and they drop it back to the playful, folky ballad mode. Then another hard rocking, riff driven segment takes it in cool directions. A soaring guitar solo weaves lines around the vocals at a later point. While not one of my favorites on the disc, this tune certainly has its charms.
Rainbow Asylum
Keyboards lead this one in. This builds up gradually. Then it shifts out after a time to a more hard rocking jam that works pretty well. It works through a number of changes, working between hard rocking and more mellow modes with seeming ease. This is pretty and rather emotional in texture, but not one of my favorites. The light hearted jam that takes it later in the number is pretty cool, though. So, is the jazzy resolution that follows. The guitar solo that weaves over the top is also tasty.
Every Time We Say Goodbye
Starting tentatively with vocals coming in with just minor accompaniment, this grows upward gradually. It turns into an old-school jazz ballad arrangement. This never moves far from its origins, but is a cool, if a bit out of character, conclusion to the disc.
 
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