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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Steve Morse and Sarah Spencer

Angelfire

Review by Gary Hill

This collaboration is an interesting disc. It tends towards mellower, acoustic driven music. It’s not all what I would consider progressive rock, but with the type of music Steve Morse does in his solo work and with The Dregs, I’m putting it into that category. Besides, a good chunk of this does fit under that category, anyway. Wherever you put this, though, it’s a great disc. It would be easy for music like this to become monolithic and a bit boring in the hands of less talented individuals. Morse and Spencer, though, pull it off in fine fashion. Each song has its own identity and the disc never lags. There are highlights, but really no weak points.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Far Gone Now

A gentle and yet fairly lushly arranged track, this is both intricate and beautiful. I particularly like the guitar solo section with its overlying non-lyrical vocals.

Everything to Live For
More of an energized cut, this feels more like a cross between country and folk music. There is a definite progressive rock edge to it at times, but it’s much more straightforward than the previous number. There’s also a little Celtic edge to the track later.
Feelings are Overrated
This one feels kind of in-between the first two tracks. It’s definitely got the folk meets modern country element that the last track had, but it’s not as straightforward and has some added intricacies. 
What Made You Think
The most purely prog cut to this point, this has an air that at times reminds me, musically, of California Guitar Trio. The vocals have a nice airy quality to them. 
Here Today
I like this one a lot. It’s got elements of Suzanne Vega, but there’s also a modern pop texture and plenty of pure progressive rock. At times I hear Renaissance here. This is one of the most involved arrangements. It’s pretty and powerful. The guitar solo section here is very tasty. 
Get Away
This reminds me of a more progressive rock oriented Tori Amos. In fact, parts of the melody really call to mind a specific song of hers. Then again, I hear bits of California Guitar Trio on this and also Renaissance. This is very powerful and one of my favorites on the set. 
Pleasant Surprise
There’s not a huge difference here from the other music, but it’s definitely all its own track. It’s not really a highlight, but that’s just because some of the other stuff is so strong. 
Terrible Thing to Lose
There’s both a more rocking edge to this and more of a fusion flair. It’s a tune that’s considerably different than the music around it. There’s an extremely tasty guitar solo on this cut, too. 
Omnis Morse Aequat
This one’s almost classical. It’s quite involved and very intriguing. 
Take It or Leave It
Somehow the vocal arrangement on this reminds me a lot of Yes. As the instrumentation comes in fully the cut begins to seem more like California Guitar Trio to me, but there is also a lot of Renaissance in the mix here. This is another awesome piece of music. It’s pretty and poignant. 
Urban Decay
This is a more playful number. It reminds me a bit of Suzanne Vega in some ways. It’s also got more of a pop rock element.
 
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