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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Brian May and Kerry Ellis

Acoustic by Candlelight

Review by Gary Hill

Brian May is, of course, best known for his work as the guitarist in Queen. He’s an amazing musician and anything he does is worth checking out. Kerry Ellis is best known for her work in musical theater. She has an astonishingly powerful voice. The combination of the two of them is really impressive. I’ve included this in the progressive rock category mostly because of Brian May’s involvement, but there is some stretching of musical boundaries here. Whatever you call this, though, it’s a great album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
Born Free

I remember the original version of this song from when I was a kid. I always loved it. This acoustic guitar and vocal take on the piece is stirring and beautiful.

I Loved a Butterfly
There is a great folk rock approach to this cut. It’s a pretty piece that is quite effective.
I Who Have Nothing
This is an especially mellow piece. It’s also got one of the most powerful vocal performances of the whole set. I absolutely love this number. Kerry Ellis really shines here.
Dust in the Wind
I’ve heard quite a few covers of this Kansas song over the years. This is one of the better ones. It’s always been a pretty song and that’s brought home in many ways here.
The Kissing Me Song
This is more of a rocking number. It’s got a lot of energy and catchy hooks. It’s a fun piece that really works well.
Nothing Really Has Changed
There is a real old world ballad approach to this song and some of the melodies seem very familiar to me. This is such a beautiful and sad piece of music. It’s slow and sedate and very evocative.
Life Is Real
Here they tackle a Queen song. This is another mellow one, but has a bit more of a rocking nature than some of the rest here do.
The Way We Were
This classic piece gets a pretty acoustic guitar rendering here.
They turn their attention to a Beatles song here. I’ve always liked this song a lot. This version is quite a strong one, too.
Love of My Life
Another Queen song, this has always been a personal favorite. Brian May sings the first verse (along with some other parts) and does a great job on it. This sort of duet approach works well on the tune and this is really quite an effective treatment.
I’m Not That Girl
A song from “Wicked,” this gets a piano and voice ballad delivery here. It’s a pretty cut that works well because of the power of Ellis’ voice.
I Can’t Be Your Friend
This is such a powerfully evocative piece of music. It’s more or less a powered up ballad. It’s quite stirring. It’s one of the best pieces of the whole set.
In the Bleak Midwinter
A holiday piece, this is pretty, but a bit too slow to really stand out, I think. It’s a good song, but seems to slow the set down too much. If there’s one to skip (and that’s questionable) this is it.
Crazy Little Thing Called Love

This Queen rocker gets an acoustic reworking. It doesn’t lose any energy or cool in this telling, though. I like this one a lot. The audience claps along. The piano adds a lot to the mix and there’s an acapella section, too.

No One but You
The piano plays a prominent role in delivering melody and power to this piece. The vocals, though, really sell it. It’s a powerful piece of music, even though it starts off in a very understated way.


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