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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Ken Block

Drift

Review by Gary Hill

This is the first solo album from the lead singer of Sister Hazel. It always seems odd when a lead singer does a solo album because the music is usually quite similar to the sounds of the band. There are exceptions to that rule, but this isn’t one of them. If you like Sister Hazel (and they are a great band) you’ll like this CD because it’s very similar to the band’s sound.
Interestingly I’ve read reviews that say that this disc kind of foregoes the rock side of Sister Hazel to focus more on the mellow. The funny thing is, when I just listened to the disc I thought the same thing. When I sat down to write the review, though – and listened with that in mind, it became obvious that this is really a rock album. While there are some purely mellow songs here, most of the pieces have at least some energetic rock woven into the arrangements. It’s quite a good album. I’d just about say “great,” in fact. I guess you still have to wonder what separates this from a Sister Hazel disc – other than personnel differences, but when it’s this good, who really cares?

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
Blue To A Blind Man
Here’s an acoustic guitar based ballad. The lyrics to this are great. I love the line, “teaching blue to a blind man can’t be done.” This is about the futility of a doomed relationship. There’s a nice vocal duet between Block and Maile Misajon. This cut might be the best one here.
The Other Side
Here we’ve got one of the rockers on the disc. This is probably the most Sister Hazel-like number. There’s a rather Beatles-like hook in the midst of this. 
Completely Wasted
For some reason the mode that opens this reminds me of Mazzy Star a bit. As it shifts out into the song proper, though, this is another rocking piece. It’s also another that would have been quite a home on a Sister Hazel disc. This one is even more energized than the previous piece and its arrangement is a lot more involved and dramatic. 
I Don't Mind
There’s a hint of bluegrass here and there on this number. It’s a bouncy piece that’s sort of in-between the mellower modes and the more rocking sounds. 
It's Alright
Here’s another rocker. This one is sort of mid-tempo and has a crunchier guitar sound than the rest of the disc. It’s a good tune, but not really a standout. 
Better This Way
Back into more ballad-oriented territory, this is a great piece of music. In many ways it’s understated, but if you really listen intently there’s a lot going on. This is one of my favorites on the album. 
So Far
Here’s a bouncy number. There’s more of a country bent to this. Still, it’s a rocker. 
33,059 days
Another that’s energetic, this almost feels like a country western song. There’s definitely a twang to it – at least in terms of the music. It’s got a catchy hook and is another great piece of music. There’s a tasty guitar solo on this. 
Ride
More like 1970’s soft rock, this does get more energized on the choruses. The main effect, though, is that of an anthemic ballad.
Chance
While the main musical map isn’t all that different from the last number, this is even mellower. It’s pretty and poignant. 
You & Me
Here we get another rocker – at least on the intro. It drops back to mellower modes for the verse and then works back up. My favorite line on this is, “The best part of you and me was – me.” 
We Don't Talk Anymore
This one also opens in a hard rocking motif. It is stripped way down for the verse, but pounds back out for the chorus. This is another cool tune and a great choice for closer.
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