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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Ken Will Morton

All’s Fair in Love and War

Review by Gary Hill

There is a lot of great music here. That said, this isn’t an entirely successful disc. For starters, it seems to sometimes wander a bit much between musical styles, failing land in any kind of cohesive territory. Alternately, though, it tends to lean a bit too much on an alternative rock sound without enough variety within that sound. That’s particularly true of the second half of the album. I’d have to say that, if some of the songs from the part had been left off the disc, it would probably be a stronger release. Sometimes less really is more. Still, none of the song here are bad. It’s just that taken as a whole there are a few issues.

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
Long Gone Daddy

Pure blues blends with jam band sounds on this smoking hot cut. I love the harmonica, but the vocal performance can’t be ignored. This is classy stuff.

Blindsided
This reminds me both of The Band and the Grateful Dead. It’s rather meaty, but very much a classic country inspired jam band rocker.
Straight from Your Lips
Although this still has some of the same reference points, it’s more of a modern alternative rocker in a lot of ways.
Skywriting
There are soaring elements dancing over the top of this number. It’s not a huge change, but the tone is definitely different. There are some bits of psychedelic and space music in the mix.
Contact
Country and cool rock music merge on this tasty number.
Riding for a Fall
I’m definitely reminded of the Grateful Dead here. The harmonica is a nice touch.
Vestiges of You
More of a slow country song at first, this is another solid piece. As it grows, it’s more of a straight rock song.
Down the Drain
There’s an old time jazz vibe here. This is fun.
Reach Forward
A roots rock styled tune, this is very classic in so many ways.
Good Lord Willing & the Creek Don't Rise
Down home rockabilly styled music is the concept here. There is harmonica and the piece has a lot of energy and cool. There is definitely a bit of a Grateful Dead thing here.
The Way It Goes
Jazz and jam band elements seem to merge on this classy track. It is rather a dreamy piece, really.
Trial by Fire
Harder rocking, this is a classy tune that has a lot of country built into it. It does earn a parental advisory.
Little Bird
Old school country music and rock combine here. This is a fun piece. It’s also got a lot of energy and some jazz.
Falling from Grace
With a lot of country and folk in the mix, this is a slower cut. The lyrics and the whole mood of this song works really well. I think it might be the best number here.
Hitting Ditches
Here’s another alternative rocker with some jam band and other sounds in the mix. This is solid, but not really a standout.
Conversation in a Bar
This is a strong piece, but the formula is starting to wear a little thin. It’s pretty standard fare for this album, alternative rock with a roots base.
Little Miss 1565
A slower song, this is again a bit too much like the bulk of the stuff on this disc. That’s a shame because this is good enough to deserve to stand tall.
A Wave
More of the same, there is a bit of a shoegaze element to this piece.
Hard Feelings
A bit detuned and odd, this is a slow number with a lot of old time sound in it. It’s a change, but not necessarily a good one. It does get into more standard rock sounds as it continues. That unites it with the sea of sameness that pervades here.
All’s Fair in Love & War
The title track closes the disc after a long pause. It’s another roots rock number with some psychedelia in the mix. It’s enough of a change, and a strong enough tune that it really does manage to stand tall.
 
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