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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Shawn Phillips

Continuance

Review by Gary Hill

This set really is quite a mixed bag. There is variety here in terms of musical style, although the majority lands somewhere in the prog vicinity. For me the one issue on this album is the vocals. They are often too theatrical for my tastes, but some songs work better than others. Still, the music is strong enough to get past any problem with the singing. Overall, I'd land this somewhere in the vicinity of folk prog, but there is quite a bit of range present.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Life
The sounds of a crowd of people start this. Then we get some dramatic theatrical music as the introduction winds through. The cut shifts to some intriguing guitar based prog. The vocals are too theatrical for my tastes, but the song is a strong one despite that.
The Force That We Call Life
The mellower, opening instrumental movement on this is quite cool. The vocals are not as theatrical as those on the opener.
Tribute to D
This instrumental comes in much harder rocking. It's a slower moving tune with some definite fusion along with the hard rock sounds in the mix. In a lot of ways this reminds me of Pink Floyd.
Man with a Gun
A harder rocking jam, this leans toward metal (or least metallic prog like Dream Theater). Again, the vocals are not my thing on this number. That said, the cut is so strong that it doesn't really matter. The cut does get a minor parental advisory. The powerhouse section at the end is among the best musical passages of this set and really soars. The close of this slides into the next number 
Furious Desperation
Coming out of the previous number, drums serve as the backdrop for Bernie Sanders talking. The vocal comes in as a spoken one. The cut has an almost rap vibe to it. It's sort of a beat poetry over drums thing. This also gets a small parental advisory. After a bit bass joins to help pull the tune forward. Keys show up after a while. The music gets quite jazzy as it drives onward, but the vocals remain largely unchanged.
C’Mon Round
An energized rocking groove is the order of business here. The vocals on this one are a bit more like the others, but perhaps not as over the top. This has a definite down-home country element to it. This gets energized as some proggy elements join the mix. It's one of the stronger tunes here and provides some definite variety.
Song For a Thief
Intricate guitar work starts this is sedate and very pretty ways as other elements are heard overhead. The vocals seem closer to a folk music delivery on this song. In fact, I think I'd consider this a folk prog number. It's one of the highlights of the set, working really well. The extended instrumental movement at the end is so potent.
Bach to the Fusion
This quite literally does have both Bach and fusion built into it. It's a tasty prog rock jam that features plenty of both fusion and classical music in it. Again the vocals seem to work better than on some of the rest, bringing a bit of a folk meets jazz kind of vibe. There are some great changes on this number. It is another standout.
In Grace We Intend
A folk prog number, this rocks pretty well. It has a good energy and the vocals work reasonably well.
Dancing in Survival
Fast paced, this has a lot of classical music built into it, particularly in terms of the piano work. The cut is another folk prog piece. I'm not as sold on the vocals on this piece. The instrumental section at the end of the song is purely inspired.
Mirror of Light
Coming in with a bit more of a rock and roll vibe, the vocals on this one get in my way of really enjoying it. That said there are some intriguing changes on this number. I really dig some of the soaring guitar work here. There is some cool scat singing at the end of this tune.
Some Things Will Never Change
Mellow musical elements are the basis as this starts. The vocals are spoken. There is a dreamy quality to this track that works well. Yet the piece also serves as a nice grounding agent for ending the album.
 
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