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Ben Noble

Whiskey Priest

Review by Gary Hill

I very nearly put this release under the progressive rock heading. It has some songs that definitely fit within the modern folk meets psychedelic zone of that sound. However, there are other things that are more purely folk music based or folk rock styled. Ultimately I made the decision to land it under the "non-prog" category simply based on the balance of the set. Now, all that said, this is compelling music. It's quite powerful and artistic. Yet it manages to be rather catchy a lot of the time. This leans on the mellower end of the spectrum, but rocks out a bit at times.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Birthmark
Intricate acoustic guitar lays the bedrock of the musical arrangement here. Classical strings dance across the top of that concept. The vocals create melody and drama. This has a real proggy kind of vibe to it, particularly as more layers of sound grow outward later. It's folk music based, but the progressive/art music elements really make it soar.
Healer Might
With several voices and just a bit of tasteful processing, this is an acapella number. It's quite intriguing.
Daughter
A mellow and rather stripped down tune, folk music is the basic order of business on this number. The guitar part is fairly intricate, and the song is solid.
Little One
With some classical music elements, a rich and lush arrangement and some seriously evocative vibes, this number is powerful. Yet, it's also reasonably sedate and slow moving.
Cutting Teeth
Another with a lot of that folk style in place, this again gets raised beyond that by the layers of sound augmenting it. It's a powerful number that works very well.
Worldspin
Starting gentle and sedate, this eventually works its way upward to more energized territory. Yet, it's still based on a folk rock motif.
The Sea and the Moon
Gentle and quite pretty, I really like this a lot. It's quite classical in nature and yet has an intricate folk music basis to it.
Madness
There are some soaring moments here. Beyond that, it's not a big change from the bulk of the set. That said, this has some particularly captivating moments.
Still Waters
Based on some intricate acoustic guitar work, this is a fairly short and quite pretty instrumental. While I said this was an instrumental (and it is) there are some non-lyrical vocals that gently fly around the sky of the arrangement.
Morning
The strings lend some emotional emphasis and beauty to this piece. Beyond that, it's a slow moving balladic number with some soaring vocal sections.
Secondhand Savior
With a bit of an electronic, trippy element at play, this still lands in the vein of the mellow balladic stuff that is present on a lot of this set.
Ikon
This is such a proggy piece of music. It's intricate and complex. Yet it's sedate and subdued. It's also just so pretty. It's a delicate way to end the album. For a release like this, that really works well.
 
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