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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Bart Hafeman

Zero Gravity

Review by Larry Toering

From out of the Pacific Northwest comes an artist with that true rock star quality that doesn't surface every day, and that man is Bart Hafeman. On his debut release, he brings in tow with him some great musicians and production values. Joining him on guitar, as well as other duties, is Rob Daiker (an amazing talent himself), and also Jennifer Batten, both from the area, as well. All of his influences are strongly felt on the tracks but make no mistake, this is a truly original artist and amazingly energetic performer who deserves all of the exposure headed his way. If only the world knew more about what kind of mecca of talent is brewing in this region, it could potentially change the global music landscape because of artists of this quality.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Galaxy
This is fantastic, straight out of the gate there is no time wasted in establishing the pop sensibilities that are written all over the music on offer that Hafeman. Talk about having everything going on, this has excellent, perfect pitch vocals, great percussion provided by Hafeman, and last but not least, some absolutely sizzling yet understated guitar work from Rob Daiker. The more I hear his guitar playing the more I like him. He's doing it all here: production and mixing duties, as well as the killer string prowess he possesses. If this is perfect, I wouldn't argue that opinion for one second, it's brilliant! Accompanying the aforementioned Daiker on guitar here is Jennifer Batten who provides a spot on solo.
Forever

One note of this and you get the feeling this is going to be a consistent product throughout, simply because of the effortlessly seamless approach. This gets harder in a few places, just to show a tough side to his essentially light and groovy style. This, along with the previous track is so radio friendly that it's a crime to me that this artist himself isn't on world stages. In fact, that is what I wondered the very first time I was turned on to him. Being very influenced by Dan Reed (who also works with Rob Daiker), there is a touch or two here that resembles him, but it's done so cleverly that it takes nothing away from the originality on offer.

Fly

Once again, this is a thing of pop perfection that weighs in equally with the previous two numbers. Double tracked vocals are featured with a lot of high notes to strengthen what is already a stellar vocal delivery.

Rocket to Mars
This is awesome, as it starts to resemble a latter day Dan Reed. In fact, it's so reminiscent of him I had to check into it and did find that he contributes vocals on this. He's credited with a background contribution, but I would have to call it a generous one, as he can clearly be made out. Even though they tend to sound alike, when they sing together you hear more of a difference in their voices. This reminds me of a couple of tracks on Reed's last solo album. This is all a good thing to this fan.
Strawberry Girl
If the pop factors on display so far aren't enough, this takes it all the way. I'm reminded of Tal Bachman's debut single here, with some outstanding vocal chorus bits that take his voice on a harmonic roller coaster ride. This is great stuff!
Middle

Now this goes directly into Prince territory, which simply cannot be denied. I'd have to say this meets Bart Hafeman and Dan Reed in the exact place described in the title.

Rewind
This has a hip-hop appeal to it, with lyrics that rhyme well throughout. It has a more dance vibe to it than the others on offer, so far. It is another excellent track here with a stunning guitar solo. It's all about freedom and clarity from recharging the wheels, so to speak. An awesome tune, this is pure fun!
Dancing In The Rain

The pop gear kicks back in on this very soothing track with an almost Americana vibe to it. It just carries a more singer/songwriter weight to it, which seals the quality in a bottle. I love the keyboard textures on this, as they round it out perfectly.

Sky Turn Blue

This is a pure acoustic ballad, a lovely melancholy break in the pace indeed, with a killer performance by all.

From Above

This one is very percussive, with an almost Caribbean vibe. Very smooth and clean, I love the low vocal register. This guy's voice has quite a range and he knows where to take it at every necessary turn. What a majestic vibe is featured here.

Home
The placement of this track could not be better, as it effortlessly prepares the listener for another go around. This is an artist with a strong global appeal who begs to be exposed in all the right areas. In fact a double bill with Dan Reed is what I'd like to ultimately see. Even though I have witnessed them perform on the same stage, I'm ready for a full set of them together.
 
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