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Earthshine

Take Flight

Review by Larry Toering

Kristen and Scott Prinzing, from Billings, MT, bring their natural talents together for a second helping of their progressive folk stylings. Take Flight is a well crafted conceptual work of educational art. It's not easy to even label as “prog” but it's clearly inclined as such, yet there are endless ways to describe everything going on here.

They both have roots in rock and metal, but it's only hinted at here, although can be given credit to their overall approach. She writes the music and lyrics and has a hauntingly beautiful voice and he perfectly complements her with whispering backing vocals. All the while she plays excellent understated acoustic guitar and he magically weaves killer acoustic bass lines around it. He also plays mandolin and even “Blackcountry Lute” on one track. It finds the listener in a vast sea of swirling arrangements and features magnificent flute and bass sparring, and solos from both of the two instruments. They're backed by extraordinary musicians:  Ben Klein, flute, Tim Todd, electric violin, Brad Edwards, percussion and Kyle Brenner, cello.

Folk and prog unite in a humble gathering of pleasing acoustic based tunes, and the result is a soul satisfactory achievement.  This CD package is printed on 100% recycled paper, 70% of which is post consumer content, keeping with the duo’s overall natural approach.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Fly

If a cool pleasant breeze had a sound, this is what it might sound like from a bird's perspective. This gentle tune resembles a flight so well that it's almost spooky. Kristen's vocals just fly with the wind over the quiet melodies while Scott complements her unique voice, also very quietly but so effectively. There is a lot of flute which picks up in a few of the right places but doesn't dominate the very well balanced arrangement. Within the first few seconds you can hear the prog inclinations; it's refreshing to listen to such quiet yet so heavy handed music at the same time. Every second is captivating and suspenseful, making this a very pleasant number.

Sweet Friend
Things get absolutely mesmerizing as this track progresses, and it's easy to quote a lyric of significance when describing it.  "Someday I'm sure we'll find the perfect words / They will just roll off our tongues / People will hear them and all will be clear / New place will finally have dawned." All kinds of atmospheric sounds just draw the ears into a trance while the vocals deliver a lashing of gut level aimed advice. This track is a well put together piece that displays a vibe of darkness underneath the shiny sound. This is one of the album’s most enticing elements.
Such A Journey
There’s a tasty gypsy guitar intro as a flemenco flavored vibe gets this one underway and stays the course throughout, spiced with sharp melodies and an echoing ambience. We get more in-flight perception, but grounded in this case, although seemingly at one with the earth and sky. This contains simply beautiful lyrics, "lost in limbs, waves of pine / lillies in morning light...." This track is completely defined in its title, speaking for all living things and music as if they're at one with each other in all certainty. By this time the listener is fully engaged and looking forward to what lies ahead in this musical journey, itself.
Take Flight
In this, the title track, the wings proceed to spread as more exploration of the barriers between man-made things and nature, and the effects each has on the other. There is no holding back the apologetic driven observation Kristen clearly makes and thoughtfully delivers, as she hits home with yet more of the emotive concept upon which the disc is built. Some more lovely guitar is featured as the arrangement oozes with complexity. There is a lot of musical flight as well, as things start to become more progressive and take full shape. Exploring the ignored and pointing the finger where it belongs, "suffer me not / I will hear no more...." This is a gripping point and there is no turning back on the theme as it continues to compel and soothe the soul. It's not easy to describe the level of sheer honesty and enchanting mysticism they emote. It's all intertwined with such organic ease that it's truly magical. This is about dealing with the acknowledgement of our mistakes as told through the eyes of the on-looking creatures who are affected by the aftermath of our ways. We're reminded of "this myopic enchantment we have / regarding just who and what we actually are..." Brilliant! These artists get inside the mind with a clever subtlety and purity not often found in modern music. "Millions will never even know...."
Visions
The intensity blooms fully in this amazing track, as more flute continues to complement Kristen’s voice as she expresses visions of what could be as they squeeze the life from her. There is lovely guitar in this one as well. Melodically blissful and desperately compelling in its art, “breathtaking,” is the most effective word to describe such a thing of beauty as this.
Insurgency
The prog factor pushes the envelope as Scott takes the lead vocals and Kristen complements him with sweet infections and they engage in a vocal duet with commanding confidence. The backing arrangement here is Indian, with a very tribal effect. Drums and violins soar behind them like mad. Scott is featured well here, and one is reminded of the Beatles if anything, unless of course the listener is already well versed in Indian themes. Then one might actually know where they drew from for inspiration in that. This is not a pop track in any way, but the influence is definitely felt.
Twilight
We get more progressive intensity as this track contains a dreamy lyric over sweet wavering melodies, a contender for the overall epic piece here. Kristen continues to evoke with her subtle, yet heavy handed message in all of its glory. This is easily one of the most thoughtful and enjoyable tunes on Take Flight.
Clutching Life
This has a very spiritual approach, but then so does the entire CD, it just happens to really grab here and not let go. The overall arrangement is deep and dark with rich textures and tonal varieties, both musically and vocally. This is another gem in the grand scheme of things as "merciless night consumes each brilliant day...." We're reminded that we really are just merely “Clutching Life.”
Autumn
This is a very appropriate tune for such a disc, seeming very much based in traditional folk music. Some of the melodies are familiar in tradition but also go beyond that. Envisioned from high above a bird's flight, this explores more spiritual factors and keeps the listener reminded of the “at one” concept. To use the word “lovely” would be an understatement. There is an overall hardcore sense on this recording and this track is a leading example of that.
Special World
Maintaining the appropriateness, this track explores the world for what it truly is and helps free the mind of what it is not or should not be. Kristen once again delivers a well written evaluation with magically effortless ability. She cuts to the bone with painfully realistic results. The thought of what could be really reminds us of what's going on around us, and if only the eyes viewing it from a far could speak, such as the walls around us. This disc dwells in all of that and so much more; it is a natural piece of work with an expressive gift by the two soul mates who created and generously share it with those who seek the same content of peace and relaxation in a mostly concrete dominated society. "Devoured in our wake; how selfish we are... all we do is take..." If words and music can make any difference in today’s desensitizing world, this reflects a gigantic step in that direction.
 
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