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Non-Prog CD Reviews

John Oates

1000 Miles of Life

Review by Gary Hill

Yes, that’s the John Oates of Hall and Oates fame. I know, if you are like me you remember that duo for all the hits they had in the 1970’s. If you are like me you didn’t think much of them at the time. Well, looking back, like their music or not, you have to admit they had talent. This disc by Oates shows that he’s still creating music and while it might not be exactly the type of music I normally spin a lot, it’s delivered with conviction and talent. It’s obvious he is doing it out of love for the music, and that always makes it better. This is a good disc, but don’t expect the soulful pop music that Hall and Oates gave us. This is a lot more bluesy than that. It’s got some great music and some songs I’d consider just OK. Overall, though, this is an entertaining album and if it’s closer to your main musical tastes you’ll probably think it’s great.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
1000 Miles of Life
There’s a cool retro rock feeling to this and a rather bluesy vibe. I’m not crazy about the backing vocals on this, but the bluesy guitar sounds are nice and this has a catchy chorus.  The guitar solo is especially tasty.
The Good Son
Now this is different, but quite tasty. It’s based in a dramatic ballad motif. I hear a lot of Tom Petty on this. It alternates between a stripped down arrangement and a more lush one. There’s a lot of emotion packed into this piece. I like it a lot and would consider it to be a highlight of the CD.  
Ghost Town
There’s a weird little old time music introduction on this. It shifts out, though to a dramatic bluesy jam for the song proper. We get some harmonica soloing on this, but in a real back porch jam nod there’s also banjo. This is quite a powerful piece of music and another highlight. 
I Found Love
A stripped down balladic cut, this is nice. I just wouldn’t think of it as one of the stronger pieces here. It is a good change of pace, though and it feels quite evocative. It seems to drag on a bit too long. 
Sending Me Angels
“Sending Me Angels” comes in with an almost country element to it. As the vocals enter it brings into the realm of old time gospel music. That motif pervades the tune. It’s a good song, but this isn’t really my cup of tea. 
Ravens
Oates gives us another pretty and thoughtful ballad. It’s just guitar and his voice at first. Other elements join after a time. This is an effective number and feels full of emotion. It gets quite lush later, but never really moves from the main musical theme. 
Change of Season
A slow and tentative musical motif leads off here. As it builds up it gets more bluesy. The early modes of this are OK, but not great. As the arrangement gets more filled out and powerful, though, this gets really intense. This late segment makes the whole track worthwhile. 
Spinning Down
There’s a jazzy texture to chordings that open this. Oates gives us another mellow rocker here. This doesn’t vary a lot from some of the other stuff in terms of musical style, but the delivery is perhaps more energized. At times this reminds me a bit of Dave Matthews. There’s some cool piano work on the number. It’s really one of the stronger pieces on show. 
Sometimes
Oates starts this off unaccompanied. Guitar and percussion join after the first line. The track builds gradually up from there. It’s another soft rock tune, but it’s also another that has some jazzy elements to it. The string arrangement adds a lot to this. 
Carved In Stone
“Carved In Stone” takes us out of the acoustic modes as electric guitar brings it in. This has an R & B meets old school rock and roll approach. It’s energetic and fun, but perhaps not one of my favorites. It does represent a nice change of pace and the male and female duet kind of reminds me of Meatloaf a bit.
Circle of Three

A pretty acoustic guitar melody leads off the disc’s closing piece. Oates builds a ballad out of this. This is folky, but also has a soulful texture to it – particularly in the vocal performance. It’s all about the importance of family. It’s a gentle number and a nice way to close it out by grounding everything.

 
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