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Justin DiFebbo

Turn Out the Light, Turn on the Stereo

Review by Gary Hill

This is really a masterpiece. The mix of sounds here is classic and modern. The album works very much as a whole with a real flow to it. None of the material is weak or lacking in any way. There is enough variety to keep it fresh from beginning to end, yet it’s never a stretch to imagine all this coming from the same act.

Probably if one needed a quick label for the whole set, modern progressive rock would fit. That’s not completely accurate, but it’s close. The truth is, this set is entertaining and shows a lot of talent. It’s likely it will make it into a “best of list” or two by the time 2014 is over. Yes, it’s that good.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Coffee

As the opener starts, rich organ sounds lend a retro element to a classic slow moving arrangement. The vocals join adding to the musical concept. The guitar solo is tasteful, tasty and classic. This is the kind of thing that’s tied to old school folk and gospel, but lands more in the modern sound in certain ways. It’s all part of that back to roots movement. It’s also very effective and a great way to start things in style.

Play It Slow
That classic organ remains on “Play It Slow.” The cut’s is much more unusual. The early sections feel a bit like something from Booker T. and the MGs, but with a modern twist to it. It turns mid-track to something closer to a soaring Pink Floyd, though. After a return to the earlier modes for the next verse they turn in a full on progressive rock section. It’s really quite powerful. The song segues into the “She Refused.”
She Refused
With the prog-like atmosphere left over from the previous cut starting it, “She Refused” has an acoustic guitar dominated arrangement. It’s very much a folk rock styled piece at first. The falsetto on this is classy and the also has some progressive rock elements as it moves forward. There are some Beatles-like sounds here, too. The guitar solo lends some nice melodic moments. The organ returns for a solo mid-track. The arrangement keeps getting more and more involved as this continues. Piano ends the piece.
Stained Glass Window
This starts with a little flute section. Then acoustic guitar brings more of that folk rock sound. The vocals come gently over the top, making it feel very much like something from the 1960s. However, comparisons to something more modern like Phideaux would not be out of the question at all. Some of the sounds during the instrumental section that starts around the two and a half minute mark call to mind Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” a bit. Overall, it remains very close to its origins. It’s essentially a folk based song.
Storm
Folk music, progressive rock and more blend on “Storm.” It’s another cut that calls to mind Phideaux a lot of the time. That said, the vocal hook on this seems much more in line with 1970s folk rock. The piece continues growing and evolving and gets quite involved later. The classic rock sounds are so perfect here. Although it isn’t present prominently or constantly, that classic organ does make some appearances here and there.
Certain Company
Acoustic guitar starts this. As the vocals join the sound is more in keeping with 1970s soft rock music than anything else. This isn’t that far removed from something like America or Bread. Although that kind of texture remains prominent, the electric guitar solo brings some other elements. At times the voicings on that solo call to mind David Gilmour and Pink Floyd. At other points they land in more mainstream 1970s rock territory. It works back to the mellower sounds that started it for the last section of the piece. The closing line of the song is the title of the set.
Float Down River
With a title like “Float Down River” one might expect a gentle down-home piece. As ukulele opens the song, it’s obvious that such an expectation will be rewarded. The song is a playful one with a stripped back arrangement. The vocals really deliver that same sense of carefree summer relaxation. Appropriately it drifts out to gentle dreamland to end.

 

 

 
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