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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Kalen

Fallen from the Sun

Review by Gary Hill

The mix of music on this moves between soul, jazz, reggae, electronic and a lot of other sounds. While the music and the song structures here are all quite good, it’s the vocals that steal the show. I really love this set, and it’s because of the powerful vocals. I mean, with another singer, this would still be quite a potent release, but Kalen’s vocals really sell it and take it into the realm of “sublime.”

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
Island

Coming in mellow and rather tentative, this launches out into a soaring kind of number that is classic. The vocal performance is really strong and the arrangement seems to show off some jazz along with something not far removed from progressive rock. There are some parts of this that feel rather soulful and it really grows out into quite a powerful piece of music.

Fallen from the Sun

Atmospheric keyboard elements open the title track. A cool percussive groove emerges. The track works into something that’s more soulful than the opener. The vocal performance is possibly even stronger. This feels a lot like a torch song kind of number and it’s just awesome. Everything here just gels really well. The vocals get incredibly rocking and intense later and this shifts towards hard rock (one might even compare it to epic metal) later. It does drop back down to the mellower sounds to end.

Rabid Girl

There’s a bouncing kind of reggae meets electronic music sound to this. I’m reminded a bit of something from Gwen Stefani. The vocals still maintain a real soulful vibe, but the arrangement is more sterile, very much like some techno creation. Parts of the vocal performance here are spoken.

Neda

A slower cut, the vocals early on in this one seem to have a vulnerability to them. As the arrangement thickens up, those vocals start to get more powerful and soaring. This is another great song that showcases a different style of music, but another angle to the soaring vocal prowess on display. There are some cool backwards tracked bits of music adding intriguing textures later. There’s a drop later to percussion, lending another techno kind of vibe for a short time.

Hit the Road

As this starts there’s a bit of a reggae vibe. It drops to a percussion based arrangement that’s quite jazzy. There’s a great slow swing rhythm to this thing. As with the whole set, it’s the vocals that really sell this, but the music adds a lot of magic to the piece, too.

It Takes a Lifetime

Piano opens this and the vocals come in with just that instrument as a backdrop. It’s definitely got a “torch song” vibe. Other musical elements are added as this continues, but it remains mellow and ballad-like. Still, the vocals soar. There is really a vintage pop music (meaning before the era of rock) sound to this piece. As always, the vocals are the selling point here.

 
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