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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Enchant

Juggling 9 or Dropping 10

Review by Steve Alspach

You know when you're in Europe when even the little record shop at the airport has a Prog section. Duly impressed, I took a chance on this band based on the interesting album title alone. I'm glad I did. This San Francisco outfit had a good sound going for it - a heady mix of rock chops, catchy melodies, and excellent musicianship. This being only their second album, they have a very promising future ahead of them. Fans of Rush or Dream Theater will be well advised to seek this group out.

The personnel are: Douglas A. Ott, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, bass, e-bow and feedback keys, mellotron, organ, moog, piano, and backing vocals; Ted Leonard, vocals (and bass on "What To Say"); Ed Platt, bass on "Paint the Picture"; and Paul Craddick, drums, percussion, organ, pads and popeye keys, organ, strings, mellotron, distorto-keys, harpsichord, acoustic guitar, bass, feedback keys, pied piper keys, and Wurlitzer.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Paint the Picture
A synth-based riff that opens the song gives way to a more airy verse structure with a Rush-like acoustic arrangement before going to an acoustic-electric mix in the verse.
Rough Draft
This is one of the better "seize the day" sentiments. "Today's a draft of your epitaph" goes the lyrics on the incredibly infectious chorus. The words on this song (written by Paul Craddick) are reminiscent of Rush at their best.
What To Say
The tempo slows down a bit on this song, which is more melancholy as the singer faces the potential end of his marriage and how to reconcile this with his son.
Bite My Tongue
A straight-ahead rocker with the theme of regretted words. This is one of the more powerful songs on the album. There is a Latin-influenced break in the middle (credited to Los Enchantos as the "Senior Felipe's Guacamole Tango Section") that sounds like the band paying homage to Spock's Beard.
Colors Fade
A 12-string intro gives way to a catchy two-note riff. The band, though, keeps the pedal to the metal, especially in the bridge to the chorus. The song ends with an acoustic outro featuring piano and 12-string.
Juggling Knives
Sounding a little like the Spin Doctors here, the band throws in a bit of funk before going straight on with the bridge and the chorus. They sound a bit like latter-day Genesis on the instrumental break with its keyboard solo.
Black Eyes and Broken Glass
Enchant swings back and forth here between acoustic verses and power-chord choruses. The guitar solo in the middle is rather deliberate and thought-out in its approach to keep the track from going over the edge.
Elyse
The lyrics reflect a love song ("She elates and illuminates every stranger's face / She sets free, momentarily, everyone she sees), and Ted Leonard's words are directed to a young girl (his daughter, perhaps?). "Elyse," though, is probably the hardest rocker on the CD with its Zeppelin-esque descending chordal riff.
Shell Of A Man
Here is a twist - on this track the verses out-power the chorus. Ted Leonard's lyrics are quite good here, but are unfortunately lost in the mix. The song works well musically, and one can hear the similarities between Enchant and Mind's Eye.
Broken Wave
Nothing too progressive about this one, but instead a good rock song with excellent lyrics from Paul Craddick. The arrangement has a lot of space to it, and the vocals are perfect in the mix, helping to bring the lyrics out.
Traces
This is the biggest punch-packer of the album. The tune starts off easily enough, as though it is conserving its strength towards the end. It's needed, though, for "Traces" builds during the middle of the song to an extremely strong ending. Leonard is pushed to the limit on vocals and responds with flying colors. A guitar solo, reminiscent of Alex Lifeson, with its bended notes and fast riffing, takes the song out.
Know That
A short acoustic number with each lyric starting with "Know that....", this song brings the album back to Earth on a quiet note. At 1:27, it could stand well if it were developed a bit more, but its brevity is no reason to quarrel.
 
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