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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


First Light

Review by Josh Turner

There is a lot of debate over what may or may not be progressive rock. Farpoint would be a great place to start for anyone who might be wondering. The music is neither too extreme nor too laid back. It is a polished example of progressive rock in the vein of folk like Mostly Autumn or Echolyn. There are also many influences from Yes and the early classics.

The group consists of a quintet of multi-instrumentalists. Clark Boone sings a combination of lead and backing vocals. He also plays a 12-string guitar. Kevin Jarvis plays a variation of acoustic, electric and classical guitars. He sprinkles in a mixture of keyboards, mandolin, bass, and percussion. Dana Oxendine contributes both flute and keyboards. She sings lead and backing vocals as well. Jonathon Rodriguez is the main drummer and even adds his own percussions. Frank Tyson handles the bass guitar along with electric and 12-string guitars. He too plays some keyboards and contributes a few vocals of his own.

With these five members and all their instruments, they appear to emulate a band that's twice their size. It can be heard in the sound. If that's not enough, Shane White is Farpoint's honorary sixth member. He adds a live sound and various odds and ends. I'm not exactly sure what that means. I guess it's an inside joke that should be referred back to the band. The combination of players and instruments result in something quite unique and often interesting. Farpoint has a natural delivery along with a mature disposition. They act like an esteemed dignitary with no indication that this is their debut appearance.

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Track by Track Review
Live For Yourself
This song is characteristic of classic Yes. The guitar player emulates Steve Howe in the middle and the end. The bass player reminds me a little of Pat Henry from Salem Hill. Clark sings lead while Dana repeats many of his lines in unison.
Words of Pain
This piece is more classical in nature and features a mandolin and a flute. An acoustic guitar shares the space and plucks out varying harmonics.
Long Slow Journey
The acoustic guitar stays on for another tune, but it's played in a more conventional manner. The song is similar to the first track in terms of shared vocals. Interspersed throughout the song are strange and intriguing sounds. This includes a dive bomb from the keyboard and the clap of a wooden block.
This is more symphonic than the others with an electric guitar, chimes, and a keyboard. It is reminiscent of IQ and Pendragon. It's very short, but I like it.
The diversity of this band continues to unfold. This composition sounds so close to Dixie Dregs, one would think it is a cover. There are no vocals, which leaves more room for the guitars, bass, and drums to uncoil. Due to its differences, this goes against the grain of the earlier songs. The variety works to the album's advantage.
Farpoint seems to construct most of their songs with a short introduction before getting to the heart of it. This song is no exception. The core composition sounds very much like Starcastle. Dana takes the helm when it comes to the singing.
Fade Away
This is a jazzed up jingle by Lynyrd Skynyrd mixed with a calmed down copy of Kansas.
To The River
After hearing this song, one must ask, why the epics are always the best track on an album. This is the finest composition on First Light. The songwriting is impeccable and impressive. While it is difficult to determine exactly where each part starts and finishes (there are supposedly three distinct parts all on one track), it isn't too hard to get an approximation due to the lyrics.
Part 1: Silent Wings
The epic begins with this tasty instrumental. This is a strong track with excellent arrangements and astounding execution.
Part 2: The River
This section is mainly folk music. It's a drawn out sing-a-long with a catchy chorus and it occupies the majority of the epic.
Part 3: On the Rocks
Many occurrences from Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" are found in this part.
Ex Animo (Shelby's Song) (Bonus Track from 1999 Recordings)
This song is an ambient acoustic piece. It starts with the night sounds of crickets and cicadas. A single acoustic guitar takes the center stage. It is then accompanied by a piano. This is like combining Spock's Beard's "Chatauqua" with a Mozart concerto and the opening of Karmakanic's "Where the Earth Meets the Sky". The bonus track rounds out a distinguished debut.
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