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George St. Clair

Ballads of Captivity and Freedom

Review by Gary Hill

This set seems to be a concept album in some ways. At least, at lot of the songs are about Native American history. There are other things, though, that are about contemporary issues, but they seem related to the others, leading me to think that it's more or less a concept set, but that the concept is a rather loose one. Musically this is the kind of thing that would have been quite at home on the radio in the 1970s. There is a lot of the soft rock of music like The Eagles and America built into this album.  Yet, it also has a lot of country in it. Then again, so did most of the soft rock of the early 70s. This is a timeless album that is very effective. As good as the music is, the stories woven into the lyrics really shine with an immediacy and honesty.

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
Tularosa
Coming in with a mellow, folky vibe, this gets some country elements added to the mix as it makes its way forward. It's a classy tune with a classic sound at its heart. I suppose "soft rock with plenty of Southern twang" is pretty close to the description of this.
The Places Where They Prayed
A mellower, slower moving piece, this has a lot more country in the mix. There is a spoken movement further down the road.
Autumn 1889
This is an even mellower number. It has less country music built into it, though. It makes think of a cross between Jackson Browne and The Eagles.
Corridors
Energized folk rock, this is another classy cut. It's not a huge change, but has some solid hooks and a good groove.
Good Times
With a lot more country built into it, this has a real old-time music vibe. The piano solo bit is cool, as is the slide guitar.
Cynthia
With a lot of folk and soft rock in the mix, this one definitely makes me think of the acoustic side of The Eagles.
Up to Fail
One of the most rocking tunes here, this is definitely built on folk music, making it the definition of folk rock. Some of the guitar sounds on this make me think of Neil Young a bit. The lyrics to this tell a dark tale of the reality of life. This gets a minor parental advisory, but also has a powerhouse guitar solo.
Lie to Them
The guitar picking on this number brings a lot of country to the table. This is an effective number that does a good job of combining the country and rock elements.
Cimarrones
This song has a good balance between mellower rock and more powered up, dreamy type stuff. It's a powerful piece of music.
New Mexico
Energetic music, there is plenty of country in the slide guitar that dances around a lot of this. Still, overall it's more in line with soft rock music.
Pedro Páramo
I dig the folk music vibe on this piece.
Talkin Mesquite

This reminds me of Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere." The acoustic guitar sounds are intricate and the vocals are spoken.

 
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