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The Great Escape

Universe in Bloom

Review by Gary Hill

The mix of sounds on this set is interesting. The female vocals at once convey a retro element and a modern one. That suits the music because it really does that, too. This is at times close to prog rock. At other points it leans on things like pop music, jazz and blues. There is a lot of retro texture here, but it's all dressed up with modern duds. The end result is unique and intriguing.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Let Me Go Wild

The guitar riff that opens this feels classic. The cut works out to a classy jam from there. The horns add something special, but the whole tune present an intriguing mix. There is a healthy helping of retro rock set into the foundation of this structure. The female vocals and more bring a modern edge. In some ways this reminds me of the kind of retro-modern mash-up that Smashmouth does. I suppose that if you add a bit of the B-52s to the mix, you come pretty close with that comparison. The guitar solo section is classic.

Good Day
Much more of a pure old-school sound permeates this. There is some jazz in the mix. Overall, it feels like the kind of pop music that was popular in the early 1960s. That said, there is a bit of a Motown edge to it. However you slice it, though, this is fun.
I Can't Resist

Now, this is completely different. It comes in with a harder rocking jazz meets rock vibe. If the whole album were like this I'd probably land it under progressive rock. It's a killer cut that defies categorization. It rocks like crazy and really works well.

All You Got Is Gold
Acoustic guitar brings this in with a folk rock styled sound. The vocals come in over the top of that, lending a real 1960s vibe. There is a hint of country music on this, along with something a bit like Janis Joplin gone un-plugged. Strings and other elements are added as the cut moves forward, turning it a bit toward the lush side. The piece soars beyond that with a bit of a dream-pop meets psychedelia texture. I love this song. It drops back to the earlier section later to complete the song in style.
Sugar Sugar
No, this is not a cover of the Archies tune. It has a bouncy kind of pop music vibe to it, though. There is some fuzz-laden guitar. There are some horns. All of this combines to make an intriguing little number that's both retro and modern, and all fun.
Life Is but a Dream
With banjo in the mix, this is the kind of sound you might expect from that title. There is a definite French cafe vibe to it, too. We get some cool jazzy treatments later in the number that work really well.
Better Together
There is plenty of old school rock and roll built into this bouncy little number. I love the playful vocal delivery on this number. It's arguably the most fun thing here. The horns add a lot to the song.
The World Ain't What It Used to Be
Here is another cut that probably could land under progressive rock. A dramatic and quite intricate piano arrangements opens this. As the cut builds forward from there spoken vocals come over the top. It works out to a crescendo and then a more bouncy kind of arrangement takes over. This is more modern than retro, but there are still plenty of old-school elements built into it. When this gets powered out into a catchy kind of non-lyrical chorus, it's just so cool. They drop it down after a while to just acoustic guitar and voice to take it to the close.
All or Nothing
This starts off with a real blues rock sound. It works through along that road for a while and then explodes out into some powerhouse rocking stuff. It's along the lines of the kind of thing The Yardbirds used to do, but with female vocals and a modern edge.
The Ticket
Horns open this with a particularly fun kind of jam. The tune works out from there with a nice vocal arrangement, a bouncy groove and some harmonica. This is a great tune. It's playful.
Bad Reputation
This is very much an old school blues rocker like the bluesiest of Led Zeppelin. It's a bit of a departure, but also very classy stuff.
 
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