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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Mark Etheredge

Change Coming

Review by Gary Hill

Probably the most obvious musical references here are Steely Dan and Boz Scaggs. Other things show up in terms of comparisons, though, from Spyro Gyra to The Doobie Brothers. This is all set in a jazzy kind of pop rock style that just works really well. There are some stronger cuts and some weaker ones, but overall this is an extremely effective set of music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Living in the R.T.

The set opens with a great jazzy vibe. This has a definite Steely Dan sound to it, but there’s more of a pure jazz sound, too. It might be described “Steely Dan meets Spyro Gyra.” It’s a killer groove and I like it a lot. It’s a great to start things in style. The instrumental section turns a little funky and there’s a great melodic guitar solo.

Tuk Tuk Driver
The guitar sounds on the introduction here are rather bluesy. The cut powers out from there into something that’s a bit like Steely Dan meets Dire Straits. The chorus is accessible and this is a cool tune. It feels a little on the silly side, though. There is a cool jazzy romp later in the number.
I Would
The pop rock stylings on this cut wander into jazz territory, but it’s mellower than some of the other music here. It’s basically a jazz-influenced soft rock ballad. It’s good, but not one of the standouts on the set.
Hot Tub
The rhythm section opens this and then it turns to a jazzy kind of vibe. This has a rather stripped down arrangement for the first vocal sections. While this might not be the most intriguing or developed song of the set, some saxophone lends great textures to it and the female backing vocals are also a nice touch.
The One
Jazz meets pop rock on this accessible tune. It’s another solid one, but perhaps a bit less potent than some of the other music here.
The Other Man
Here’s one of the coolest cuts on the whole disc. It’s got a great smooth jazz groove and feels a lot like Steely Dan.
Pimp You Out For Love
There’s a playful edge to the arrangement here. The verse is set over a pattern that’s stripped back basically to the rhythm section. Some keyboard textures bring melody and texture as it works towards the chorus. It powers into a rather funky jam for the actual chorus and female backing vocals add to the mix. While overall I’d put this somewhere in the territory between the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan, there’s a keyboard bit that takes it into more fusion-oriented sounds.
Dear Buddy
This is one of the higher energy tunes on the disc. It’s bouncy, fun and accessible. I like it a lot. There’s a particularly noteworthy guitar solo on the piece and it’s one of the best on the whole disc. The vocal hooks are among the most accessible here.
Room to Room
Based on a piano and voice ballad approach, this is one of the most evocative and pretty cuts on the disc. It’s actually one of the standouts here, despite being one of the mellowest tunes. There is great use of strings for emotional impact later.
Lessons
A slower number, there is almost a bluesy vibe to the pop stylings of this cut. It really has an accessible and classic feeling to it. The hooks are tasty and the song works exceptionally well. It’s one of the standouts of the disc. There’s a nice keyboard solo in the middle of this one.
A Bit o’ Kindness
There’s more than a bit of funk on this energetic and bouncy jazz meets pop rock tune. It has a great classic groove to it and it’s one of the strongest numbers here. The saxophone here is a great touch as it brings a lot of feeling and drama to the piece.
Change Coming
This starts with just piano and the vocals come in over the top of that style of arrangement. This is a mellower piece in some ways, but the accessible chorus rises up with a renewed energy. There is definitely some great melody lines built into this tune. While it drops back down for the second verse, more instruments and intensity come in after that and there’s a soulful saxophone solo. Some gospel styled backing vocals are heard later in the piece.
 
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