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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Orphan Project

Orphan Found

Review by Josh Turner

This orphan may just revolutionize the face of music if given the proper nurturing by the listening audience. Scores of influences can be heard in their music. In some ways they have a contemporary sound like Caroline Spine and Crash Test Dummies. However, the music is heavily doused in progressiveness too. They have clever compositions akin to Spock's Beard. Aspects of Kansas can be heard as well with violins and cellos. They even have a gritty edge at times similar to the band Tool.

The music is emotionally charged with personal lyrics. Shane Lankford, the lead vocalist and frontman of the band, puts his heart and soul into the music. He sings with incredible passion. He is U2's Bono. He is Soundgarden's Chris Cornell. He is the nucleus of a talented band.

Orphan Found is a concept album about the physical and spiritual aspects of adoption. Shane pulls all the elements together with an honest voice and tells a history riddled with a dichotomy of joy and pain. It is captivating music with a striking production and recommended to all. This should give you an idea of what to expect in this finely crafted album:

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Coming Into View I
Discovering new surroundings - Orphan Project opened the Rites of Spring Music Festival and really set a pace that wasn't matched until the headliners took the stage (Note: for the critical reader in attendance, Izz may have been an exception). Like their live performance, this song opens an album the way it should begin. It sets the pace. It grabs the listener. It informs the listener that they should sit still and pay attention to the lecture in front.
There are some great orchestrations in this song. The singing is impeccable. The music is a sensible combination of Eagle-Eye Cherry and Goo Goo Dolls. The pace is unhurried. The strokes are broad. The beat dawdles along to the tune of a violin.
Full But Lonely
This cut is more aggressive and symphonic. It has some dark lines painted into the canvas. The bass is both borrowed and new. Colin McGough plays like the bassist from Tool, but more than manages to create a style of his own. The synths would be comfortable on a Man on Fire album. Like a toned down version of Slipknot, Disturbed, or System of a Down, the bridge borders on Nu Metal.
Leaving My Seat At The Table
The sequence in the first minute resembles Pink Floyd. It then flips to something more comparable to Caroline Spine. It continues to toggle between these styles, but moves like fluid water in a stream between them. The middle is like Kansas' "Dust In The Wind." There are even moments of pop. This is a great demonstration on how to cleverly combine a variety of ideas.
Trickle Down
Like the last one, many ideas are brought together. The water moves through the pipeline and drips from the faucet. There is a neo-progressive vibe. Shane's voice shows much character. The harmony gives added depth. The word orphan rings tried and true each time it is sung. John Wegner's guitar takes off in a tirade like a raging rocket.
Coming Into View II: Encircling Arms Of The Father
This is very accessible. It exhibits a simple hook and suitably placed bridges like a Ray Wilson song. The electric and acoustic guitars share the space and play well with one another. This song is happy and uplifting.
See What He Sees
The emotion has changed. The narrator reveals his enlightenment. Emotions have already peaked and burned themselves out. All is beginning to be understood. A bigger picture comes into view. A sense of hope is felt. It is bittersweet. Sometimes one can only forgive, forget, and take each day one step at a time.
Orphan Found
The album is laden with goodies, but this may be the overall highlight. Everything comes together. They have numerous hooks, bridges, harmonies, and instrumentations packed into this song. Yet, nothing gets muddled or feels forced in the least. There is something simple in the sense of a sing-a-long. At the same time, there are a number of intriguing components stuffed into the music and then cunningly arranged. For the most part, this technique is employed in all their songs. This one just happens to hit all the right notes at the right time. The melodies are engaging. The guitar solo is a nice touch, too.
Parts As One
This song has the slowest pace so far. It might also be the simplest. It is might be something one would expect from Hootie and the Blowfish. It works as a pleasant interlude.
Paupers Unfulfilled
This has Phil Collins written all over it. This is not necessarily Genesis or the soundtrack from The Lion King, but the songwriting is something along the lines of Phil's highly inspired solo work. Shane even sings like Phil here. There isn't much doubt who or what influenced this song.
Coming Into View III: Gazing Down On Golden Streets
On Testimony, Neal Morse was able to tell a story set to music. Somehow he was able to say exactly what he wanted to say and it was still music, not someone reading a monologue. Throughout this album, a story is told. In this particular track, the story is clear as day. The music is inspirational. It is easy to see Shane's visions as if sharing the same daydream. He elevates our spirits high above the skies.
Outro: Wonderous Love
When reading the last pages of a good suspense novel, it is far from easy to put the book aside until the final page is turned. Even after it is finished, a story may get under the skin, leaving you exasperated with a flutter in your chest. Orphan Found keeps you on pins and needles in much the same way waiting for the wind down. When the very last word is read, the climax is reached, and the mysteries ultimately unravel. Just remember to breathe.
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