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Non-Prog CD Reviews

June Star

Pull Awake

Review by Gary Hill

The blend of country and rock on this works well. Each song taken by itself is good. The only problem is that the vocals start to feel too similar from one cut to the next as you make your way through. Add into the equation a tendency toward understated, at times mumbled vocals, and it’s a problem. That said, it’s not a big problem, just a minor annoyance. This is a good set. With some greater attention to the vocal delivery, it could have been an extremely good one.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Tether

With some rock built into it, this is a mid-tempo country song. There are no big surprises here. Instead what we get is a rather predictable, but very competent and entertaining song.

Feathers
This one lands more in the rock vicinity than the opener did. Sure, it’s still country music, but it’s not far removed from Southern rock, either. It’s an even stronger number, too. In some ways it makes me think of Tom Petty a little even. I really love the guitar solo on this.
House Call
More of a ballad, this is pretty good. It’s very much down-home country. My only problem with it is that some of the vocals are mumbled, making it hard to understand what he’s saying.
Wonders
More energized and a bit on the rocking side, this is a step up from the previous tune. It does suffer just a bit from muffled vocals in a spot or two, but otherwise it’s a good cut.
Walk Away
There is a lot of charm and magic built into this song. It’s almost like a country power ballad in some ways. There are haunting elements to it. Again the vocals are a bit too understated at times, though. When it’s this good, though, it’s hard to find any fault, really. This might be my favorite song here.
Passed Over
Country, rock and Americana merge on this solid, but not Earth-shattering piece. It’s just not really a standout.
Proof
More of a traditional country song, this is one of the better pieces here. It leans toward the ballad end of the spectrum.
Coma
The vocal delivery is starting to wear a bit thin by this point. There isn’t enough variety in terms of the melody lines and phrasing from song to song to lend a lot of individual identity. I really love the instrumental section on this, though. Also, any of these songs, taken by themselves, would be strong. It’s just when you listen to the whole thing that it develops a bit of a samey quality.
Atrophy
This does bring a little variety in the vocal department. It’s also a pure country ballad that’s one of the more effective pieces here.
Apollo
A rocking number, this is one of the strongest pieces here. Unfortunately, though, the vocals land more in the “too similar” vein. That takes away from what might be the best song here.
The King is Dead
This ballad is nice. Normally, I’m not crazy about closing a disc with a mellow song, but it works here.
 
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