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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Greg Smith

Redemption Road

Review by Gary Hill

This is a collection of well-written music and strong performances of those songs. The music is generally in the folk rock territory, with some variation in terms of the style within that concept. That brings up the one issue I have with it. I am sure it's done to create an artistic statement, but the album is divided into sections (technically two "chapters" and an "epilogue"). The first chapter is acoustic guitar based music (with other instruments augmented. The second features more keyboard dominated tracks and one is electric guitar based. The epilogue, just one song, is an instrumental piece.

Here is the problem. The first chapter includes so many songs, and they are just a little too similar. I think that pulling some of the other songs in to break it up would allow the album to flow better. Again, I get it. It's an artistic statement, and I can appreciate that. I just think the album would be a more effective listening experience if the more varied songs were interspersed throughout. It's just a matter of degrees, though, as this is good, either way.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Chapter One: Reconnaissance
                       
Redemption Road

I love the crisp and intricate acoustic guitar sound that brings this song (and the album) into being. The vocals join with style, and the arrangement starts to fill out from there. This is a great folk rock styled balladic number. It's an excellent opener.

Amarillo
Even more purely folk based, this again features some particularly tasty guitar work. The vocals are gentle and evocative.
In My Dreams
Not a big change, this is another effective folk piece. There are some country hints in some of the instrumental work. Many of those instrumental things are intricate, too.
San Joaqauin Station
Those country elements show up on this number, too. I love the acoustic guitar solo on the tune. This is a slow moving song that's another effective folk piece.
Snowfall
While this reflective and evocative folk ballad isn't a big change, it is unique. It's also particularly strong.
Chapter Two: Reflection
                  
Redemption Redux

Instead of the guitar basis that dominated the previous tunes, keyboards start this cut. The number grows out with a keyboard-led arrangement. It's a nice change and a great tune. Given that it's a variant on the first song of the disc, it's also serves well to unite the set.

Go
This seems to serve as a bridging number, too. It takes the more keyboard based element of the last track and brings it more in line with the music of the first half of the disc. This is a strong folk based number with an intriguing arrangement.
The Bridge
Piano and vocals open this one. This might be the strongest tune on the whole album. It grows outward into a more full arrangement gradually, but becomes very powerful before it's over.
Ten Sinners
This is much more of a rocker, complete with electric guitar. It still has a folk rock basis. There is a nice contrast between mellower and more rocking zones.
Epilogue: Redemption

            

Fais Do-do

An extended introduction that plays like a bit of studio preparation gives way to a bouncy kind of playful jazzy jam. This instrumental makes for a satisfying conclusion.

 
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