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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Willie Hines

Letters to Maria

Review by Gary Hill

This CD is a bit of a mixed bag. There are some strong pieces here. Nothing here is decidedly weak. It's just that a lot of it is quite generic and feels a bit rough around the edges. If you like mainstream pop rock, this is the kind of thing that's targeted at that demographic. For my money the final two songs are the best of the set, with the closer worth the price of admission by itself, but nothing here is really a "skip" track. It's just that the formula wears a bit thin a lot of the time.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
(I'm Not Waiting for The) Heartbreak
A wall of vocals opens this number and the album. A rocking sound rises up from there to drive forward. There is a real AOR rock sounds this works onward.
Little Tin Cup
Starting rocking, this drops back to more of a melodic rock element for the verse. While there are solid hooks here, and the cut feels very mainstream, there is a bit of a rough around the edges, DIY element at play, too.
This Is Our Love
Intricate guitar melodies bring this number into being and grow it outward from there. This is more of a balladic piece, remaining quite mellow. Strings bring some additional textures to the number. It has a bit of a hair metal ballad vibe to it.
Standing at the Altar
This lands half-way between a ballad and a rocker. It has more of that hair metal vibe, too. It's a classy cut that's among the best here. The guitar break later has a real Latin element to it.
Don't Let Go
Another pop rocker, this is not really in that hair metal zone at all. It's nothing Earth shattering, but a solid tune.
Let's Not Waste Time
I like the hooks on this. It has a classic texture and works pretty well. The balance between dropped back and more rocking is good. I dig the melodic guitar solo, too.
In the End
The melodic textures on this cut are classy. The tune works really well. It is more of a ballad, and it's classic in stylings. The strings add something special to it. This is one of the most effective tracks here, really.
On Fire
Another mainstream rocker, this works pretty well. It's just not a standout. I do like the guitar solo quite a bit. It has an almost Allman Brothers kind of vibe to it.
Waiting For a Miracle
This is one of the more effective pieces here. It's a ballad, but not an especially sedate one. It has some energy. It also has some strong hooks. This is one of the best tunes here, really.
The Tenth Letter
Piano brings this into being. It continues to create the melodies. The vocals join over the top of this mellower motif. This is so pretty. It's the real highlight of the set. It's also packed with emotion and leans toward prog rock.

 

 
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