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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Matthews Southern Comfort

Like a Radio

Review by Gary Hill

Not everything here is progressive rock. There are clearly some songs here that fit into that category. Some of the others find me referencing things like The Syn and The Strawbs, making that categorization valid. Were I to base this strictly on the music here, it would be a hard call to make. Given that the band is named for Iain Matthews who was part of Fairport Convention before forming this outfit, it fits under progressive rock. This is all soft rock, mostly folk based. It's all quite classy, too. No matter how you label it, this is a diverse and dynamic set that should appeal to a wide range of listeners.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Thought Police
If this cut had the over layers of sound removed, it would probably be a straight folk rock number. Those dreamy, trippy textures turn this into a psychedelic, spacey kind of modern prog. There are things about this song that make me think of The Jefferson Airplane a bit. The cut is classy with some great textures and sounds. It probably lands closest into the vein of soft rock, but this is complex and so cool.
Like a Radio

I dig the jazzy kind of groove built into this cut. The Jefferson Airplane reference is here, too. Again, looked at one way this is just a mainstream pop rock tune. The violin and other elements over the top, though, along with the jazz thing, bring this into the progressive rock end of the equation. The jazz-based instrumental section mid track is a great touch.

The Age of Isolation
This is less proggy than the first couple tracks were. It has a great folk rock vibe to it. It does make me think of The Syn quite a bit. There are some prog elements here, particularly in the instrumental section.
Bits and Pieces
This comes in with a lot of country and bluegrass at its heart. Overall, this one is a classy folk rocker. It has some particularly catchy hooks and intriguing changes. This is roots based music at its best.
Darcy Farrow

Piano opens this and holds the piece for the duration of the introduction. The vocals join with nothing else added to the mix. Other voices and other instrumentation gradually enter the cut. Still, it remains quite mellow throughout. This reminds me a lot of something The Strawbs might do.

Crystals on the Glass

Coming in faster paced, but still acoustic, there is a real Celtic vibe to this number. This calls to mind both Tempest and The Syn for me. This is a classy song that brings some intriguing changes.

Been Down So Long
The instrumental mode that opens this brings some prog into the game. Then it shifts out to more of a traditional folk rocking number. Again, I'm reminded of The Strawbs here. I love the tasty guitar soloing on the piece, making me think of Mark Knopfler a bit. The lyrics to this are poignant and topical.
Jive Pajamas
Jazz and groovy rocking sounds are at the heart of this cut. I love the vocal arrangement on this thing.
Phoenix Rising
Country folk sounds begin this, and the cut grows outward from there.
To Love
This rocker has a lot of that 1960s rock texture built into it. Jefferson Airplane is a valid reference point again.
Right as Rain
A mellower folk styled piece, this is classy stuff. It has some definite jazz elements at play, too. This is slow moving and quite evocative.
Chasing Rainbows
We're back into distinctly psychedelic, trippy prog like stylings on this tune. It has plenty of jazz elements in the mix, too.
Bonus
              
Something in the Way She Moves

This cover of a James Taylor song seems to have some Grateful Dead mixed with Jefferson Airplane in its arrangement. It's another classy tune.

A Heartless Night
Another folk based tune, this is classy soft rock. The little outro bit gets some jazzy, proggy elements built into it.
Your Cake and Eat It
Another mellow number, this has some cool guitar work. This gets a bit more powered up later, and the guitar soloing works really well.
 
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