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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Hillary Reynolds Band

The Miles Before Us

Review by Gary Hill

What an amazing set this is. I’m reminded of some descriptions I’ve heard of the band Phish. Those descriptions say that Phish is a different band from song to song. No, I’m not saying this sounds like Phish – not at all. I am saying that the breadth of variety here is pretty amazing. Yet the flawless vocal performance pulls the whole package together, like the bow on the gift. And, this is a great gift. It ranges from art rock, to pop music, country, folk and jazz. Yet it all flows smoothly together start to finish. There is no weak material here and the whole thing shines. 


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Took Me a While

The opener is quite impressive. It has a flourish at the start that has an almost progressive rock element to it. The whole song manages to retain some of that, too. Yet, the main concept is a modern pop rock. Still, the song is deceptively complex while still remaining very catchy.

Pretending I'm in Love
Folk and pop meet in this bouncy little number. It’s delicate and intricate and yet it has a lot of energy.
Honey, Come Home
This one also starts out intricate and delicate, but it really grows out into a rather rocking piece of music. It’s got a lot of country built into it, along with a lot of modern pop music.
Can't Let You Go
The introduction on this one has a real art rock kind of element. It’s mellow and slow moving and yet powerful. The first verse carries on with that concept. It works out to more of a rocking country sound from there. When it drops to the next verse, those two songs are combined. This is an unusual song that’s quite effective. Somehow the guitar solo section here makes me think of Pink Floyd just a little.
I Surrender (feat. Forrest O'Connor)
Another impressive piece of music, this is fast paced. It’s got a lot of bluegrass and country in the mix. Still, I can make out some jazz and more here. It’s another winner on a disc that has no shortage of strong material.
Braver Than We Think
Starting in fairly mellow ways, the song still has energy and intricacy even in that format. It works out to a more powered up arrangement. This one definitely lands on the modern country pop territory. It has a very intriguing vocal arrangement. 
What It Is
This lighthearted tune feels like fun times and relaxation. It’s got both modern pop music and a lot of jazz built into it. It’s catchy and has a great groove.  
Balloon & Kite
This time out it’s more straightahead pop music. That said, nothing here is simple and this arrangement has some definite complexity. It’s energetic and entertaining.       
Crossing the Line
With a lot more country and folk music in the mix here, this has a real emotive quality to it. It’s still got some complexity. Although it has some mellower sections, it still rocks, too.
This Love Is Ours
This is one of the best songs of the disc. It has some of the widest dynamic ranges, starting and ending with an extremely mellow segment, but rocking out in the middle. This is set in the pop meets country style. The vocal performance is among the best here and really makes this one as great as it is.
How
Intricate and very mellow, this is a classy piece. It’s more of a classical music meets pop type number. It’s another where the vocal performance really sells it, but the music is quite interesting, too.
I Didn't Know Who Else to Call
This is such a beautiful and powerful song. It’s mostly piano and acoustic guitar, but the symphonic string arrangement adds a lot of flavor to the mix. Again, this wouldn’t be as great as it is without this particular vocal performance. This piece is mellow, but it’s packed with both emotion and greatness.
Looking for a Way Back
And, now we get something completely different. This is a full on progressive rock treatment. It’s got some metallic elements, symphonic bits and more. The vocal performance is what makes this fit the rest of the album. Whether it fit or not, though, it would still be one of the highlights of the set. It’s a real thriller.   
Keep On Driving
Here is another classy track. This is more set in the modern pop sound, but all the elements we’ve heard throughout seem to show up on this tune. Normally, I don’t recommend closing with a mellower piece like this, but somehow here it really works well. It’s a great way to end an exceptional album
 
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