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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Quill

Brush with the Moon

Review by Gary Hill

If you jump ahead to the last song, you’ll definitely decide this fits under progressive rock. On the other hand, if you were to listen to the song before it, you’d never think of landing this there. The majority of the disc, though, is sort of the same general territory as The Strawbs – folk based prog. All those distinctions out of the way, this is quite a strong set. There are some standout pieces, but for the most part, everything here is very solid. I like this one quite a bit. There are both male and female vocals here, but the female ones dominate the album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Quicksilver

Mellow and quite pretty, there is a lot of folk music built into this. Yet the overlayers of sound are what brings the progressive rock to being. This isn’t far removed from some of the music of acts like The Strawbs. I like the mix of male and female vocals here. It definitely gets more rocking as it works forward.

Tumbling Years
This is a pretty ballad that feels like something from the late 60s or early 70s. The piano creates some great melodies. The vocals (female) bring a different sort of class and style to the proceedings. The tune is really quite a strong one. It’s one of my favorites here. While this has a lot of that 1970s folk music style, there is enough progressive rock in the mix to keep it in that genre. I’d even say that somehow this makes me think of Renaissance just a little. The strings and other layers of sound add a lot.
Schoolyard
Although there are no big changes here, this is one of the most effective pieces. Again, somehow I’m reminded of both Renaissance and The Strawbs. I love the strings and the piano on this song.
Poppy Fields
Feeling like a pop ballad from the late 50s or very early 60s, I’d have to say that the string arrangement here seems a bit heavy handed. Still, it’s a pretty song. It’s not one of the standouts, though.
Nine Mile Camp
The opening section here has spoken male vocals. This is a song about Native Americans. It works out after the dramatic introduction to a song that’s more in line with the rest of the disc. There is a movement later, though, that’s got male sung vocals. That section feels like a progressive rock David Bowie to me. It’s the most decidedly prog section to this point. This is one of the most diverse and strongest compositions on the disc. The spoken part returns at the end.
England
More energetic folk prog is the concept of this number. There are some Celtic elements at points here. This is a compelling and quite beautiful piece of music. Electric guitar comes in on the latter portions of the cut, turning it into a real rocker.
Hollywood Blue
The folk prog concept is still well represented here. The main vocals on this cut are male, though. Somehow, this feels to me like a cross between that folk prog element and The Grateful Dead. It’s a nice bit of variety, but not really one of the highlights. Still, I like it a lot.
Wedding Dress
There are male vocals here, but the bulk of the singing is of the female variety. This song somehow reminds me of what you might get if you merged The Moody Blues with Renaissance and Black 47. It’s a solid folk prog piece of music.
Twister
This is a big change. There is no progressive rock on this piece. Instead, what we get is a country based folk rocker. The male vocals are the dominant ones here. Although I appreciate the change this brings, it’s definitely not one of my favorites of the disc.
Man in White
They saved the best for last. This is a progressive rock powerhouse piece that works through a number of different changes. In addition to the standard vocals there are sections of soundbites from coverage of the 9-11 attacks. They really could not have picked a better way to end the album. This is epic in many ways (though not in length). It is powerful and evocative.
 
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