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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Stan Riley

2nd Chances

Review by Gary Hill

This is the new CD from someone in my geographical neighborhood. It has a good mix of sounds ranging from country to folk, rock, gospel and more. Not everything here is fully realized or completely polished. That said, it’s all quite good. To me, the main selling point is Stan Riley’s voice. He’s a good singer. He seems a little restrained at points, but when he lets loose, he really rocks. This is a good first effort. I can’t wait to hear what Riley does next.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
All Because of Your Love

There is some country, some folk and some pop music in the mix here. In some ways the song construction feels a little awkward. The thing is, that lends a certain charm to it. The vocal performance really sells this song. It’s a fun little number and a great way to start the set in style.

Second Chances
Somehow, it seems especially appropriate to put a song titled “Second Chances” in the second position on the disc. The track is more pure country in terms of the vocal delivery. Yet, it’s got more folk and rock in the song structure itself. The only problem I have with this track is the production. It feels a bit flat in that department. Still, the song is potent enough to allow the listener plenty of reason to overlook that deficiency.
Doin' Alright
This has more energy than the last cut. It reminds me of some of the folk based rock that came out in the late 60s and early 70s. This really has the feeling of a warm weather jam session. It’s less country than the first couple tunes. It’s quite an entertaining piece. I particularly like the bass line, but the vocals, as always, are the main selling point.
Holy, Holy (Halleluia)
Paying tribute to his Christian roots, Riley delivers a very different kind of song here. Rather than the “church” kind of arrangement one might expect, this is more of a real rocker. It leans towards progressive rock in some ways. Riley’s vocal performance is the most rocking we’ve heard so far on this number, too. This is really one of the strongest pieces here. The production seems better, too.
The Serenity Prayer
Another religious track, this is an acoustic guitar and vocal only arrangement. It’s stripped back and more folk music like. The production values suffer a little. It’s not really my favorite cut here, but Riley still pulls off the vocal performance.
Good Old Days
Here’s another country styled tune. This is energized and fun. I love the backing vocals on the piece. The whole arrangement is classy. This is another standout.
Just a Splinter
With a lot of down home country folk approach, this is an old school gospel type song. In fact, this is the kind of thing that used to be called “spiritual music.” It’s a classy cut.     
All Because (Reprise)
Here’s a reprise of the opening cut. It makes for a nice bookend. This is just a return to the chorus section, with some little twists.
 
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