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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Vincent Poag

Heroes and Demons

Review by Gary Hill

Vincent Poag's new disc has a lot of variety. The music most often seems related to both Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. Still, it manages to work through sounds from folk music, to theatrical and even more rocking stuff. While not everything here really grabs me, there are some shining moments that make this well worth having.

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Track by Track Review
Beautiful Day
The first line comes in acapella, but a bouncy acoustic guitar joins before Poag's finished with that line. This is a bouncy, fun kind of folk meets soft rock kind of tune. This makes me think of both Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen somehow.
You Love Me
This song feels similar to the opener in terms of the vocal performance. Musically this has a lot of keyboards and some horns in the mix. There is electric guitar, too. All in all, this feels more like a jazz treatment. It's more effective than the lead-off track.
One Step Ahead of Gloom
This really has a lot of old school jazz and even some musical theater in the mix. This isn't even my kind of music, really, but it's so much fun. This thing just oozes cool. It's one of the highlights of the set for sure.
Piper Play
A folk music turned theatrical approach, this again calls to mind both Cohen and Waits. That said, I can also make out hints of things like Roger Waters on this, really. There are some full on Celtic parts on this number, particularly in the instrumental break.
Here I Am
This starts on piano and is actually performed by someone else (Diana Hope). It's a balladic number with strings and more built into the mix, providing some hints of the theatrical.
Young Again
This is much more of a rocker. It has a bit of rockabilly built into the guitar parts. It's a fun number.
Too Much of Nothin' to Do
A folk based cut, this number has some Celtic elements in the mix. It's a solid tune, but not one of the highlights. That said, it does wander toward things like The Strawbs.
Sir Nicholas Winton
There is a very old time musical concept here. It's a song about the holocaust seen from a very personal perspective. This is a powerful number with strings bringing a lot of the sound here. This is another of the highlights. There is a spoken section in this number. The basis of this is a true story, and if you google the name you'll learn the details that immortalized into this song.
I love the intricate guitar work on this classy tune. It's a bouncy kind of folk song. The whistling adds some charm. This is precisely the kind of light-hearted thing that was required after the emotional intensity of the previous piece.
And the Ocean Rolls
Based on a similar arrangement to the one on "Sir Nicholas Winton" this is quite theatrical. It's another that makes me think of Leonard Cohen quite a bit.
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