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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Brian Larney

At the Starting Line

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite a cool set. It doesn’t fit neatly into any one category, though. Some of it feels closer to alternative rock. Other bits are more folk-like. It wanders into jazz and blues territory. It’s all heartfelt and effective, though. I suppose you could call this “Americana” and be done, but I’m not sure that would be doing it justice. Whatever you call it, though, check this one out. It’s great.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
You Me and Allison
There is a killer old school retro rock meets alternative rock and singer/songwriter vibe to the opening number. It’s bouncy, energetic and just plain fun. It’s a great way to start the set in style.
Solace

This one is a bit mellower, but still has an energetic pace to it. It’s much more of a country meets folk and Americana kind of vibe. It’s not the instant winner that the opener was, but it’s got a lot of down home charm and style. It’s another cool tune.

Closed Door (featuring Rebekah Jean)

This starts even mellower on acoustic guitar, but turns out to quite a cool mid-tempo rocker. The alternative rock meets Americana vibe is quite strong on this and it might be the most effective tune to this point on the disc.

Whistling Past the Graveyard

Intricate, fast paced acoustic guitar opens this one. The track turns into a dramatic high energy rocker with some killer retro sounds from there. This is bouncy and fun. It’s also got a great mood and tone to it. In fact, it is one of the best pieces on the whole disc. This is just plain cool. There’s a cool piano based instrumental section later that even brings some jazz elements to play. There is definitely a bit of a 1960s element to this song.

The Plaintiff

This energetic rocker is a big change. It’s very much an alternative rock number. It’s based on a rather aggressive, but still quite catchy riff. While not the strongest song here, the variety it brings to the table earns it some extra points.

Before the Shadows Grow Too Long

Bringing some major contrast, this is a mellow, acoustic based number as it starts. That early section is essentially a ballad. As it works out after the first verse, it still remains more or less balladic. There’s more energy and some percussion, though. The chorus even has a little bit of a jazz vibe at times. Otherwise, this is more or less a folk-oriented singer/songwriter type of piece. However it’s sliced, though, it’s an effective and quite tasty number. It really has an ageless vibe to it. There are definitely folk (and even world music) overtones on this one at times.

Dogma (On a Leash)

Old school blues and folk music are the order of the business on this tune. It’s classy and cool. It’s acoustic based, but that doesn’t mean it’s slow or mellow or a ballad. There is some great slide playing here and this is energized and just oozes cool. There is some electric guitar later in the piece, but it’s still in keeping with that old school blues sound.

Why God Why?

This is melodic and tasty. It’s more of a pure alternative rock song. It’s good, but not on the same par as some of the other music here.

Chain of Words
Bouncy and classy, this number has a retro rock meets pop vibe to it. It’s energetic and quite fun. It has some tasty melodic guitar soloing and some great layers of sound and texture. Some symphonic strings add nicely to the flavor of the cut. It’s one of the classier numbers here. It’s also a bit of variety.
Chance
The percussion really drives this. The vocals are delivered in an almost stream of consciousness way. The guitar chordings have a rather jazz meets rockabilly vibe to them. This thing is among the coolest pieces of music of the whole set. The rockabilly guitar soloing is not only very effective, but it’s also magical. This might be my favorite tune of the whole disc.
Never Argue With the Devil

The closing tune is just Larney on acoustic guitar and vocals. The reference, given that basis would seem to be folk music. Frankly, though, it makes me think more of The Beatles for some reason. The guitar playing is intricate. The song structure is tasteful and tasty. Normally I’m not a big fan of the concept of closing an album with something mellow. In the case of this one, though, I think it works quite well.

 

 
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