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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Simple Things

The Simple Things

Review by Gary Hill

There aren’t a lot of bands out there without guitar. The Simple Things are one of them. Take bass, keyboards and female vocals and weave them into a great tapestry of sounds that seem to flit between jazz, soul and moody modern progressive rock (with some pop in there) and you have the sound of The Simple Things. This isn’t the most obvious choice as a progressive rock disc, but I think it fits. Whatever you want to call it, this music is vital and beautiful. It’s haunting and enchanting.

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
Flying Horses
While this has a driving bass in the background it’s essentially a keyboard and vocal based tune. I hear Renaissance on this quite a bit, although this has some soul, particularly on the soaring non-lyrical segment.
Ferris Wheel
Bass starts off here and then the pattern of keys and voice is brought in again. This has a rather jazzy groove to it. There’s also a hint of a gospel element. It’s a pretty song. 
Gone, Gone
OK, this one might not qualify as prog rock at all. It’s the same basic musical presence, but there’s almost a Motown texture to it. Although, I’d say the argument could be made that the vocal performance is more in keeping with something from classic prog. 
Trapped in This Hotel
The bass puts in a short solo (and quite a cool one at that) in the beginning of this. Then dramatic sounds enter with the keyboards and we begin out into one of the more purely prog tracks here. I would put this somewhere in the vicinity of Porcupine Tree and groups like that. The vocal performance on this is extremely powerful. There’s a lot of emotion and drama in this and it’s one of my favorites on show here. 
Eyes for Me
The first thirty seconds or so of this is just bass. The vocals come in along with keyboard elements to create a dramatic (albeit understated) atmospheric texture. The keys on this never become melodic. Instead the Kaitlin McGaw’s vocals hold the real power in this arrangement. This is another standout number and another of my favorites. 
Cold
Here’s another that’s dominated by the vocals. The music is good and wanders between proggy sounds and gospel, but the singing really steals the show. At times it is in keeping with those two elements, but it also gets quite bluesy at other points. 
What's Good for Me
This is more like a jazzy torch song. It gets quite powerful as it moves out. Raymond Ruiz’ bass puts down some seriously rubbery lines on this and Michael Gallant’s piano is very tasty, too. “What’s Good for Me” is another with some seriously bluesy moments. 
It Is What It Is
Here we get a number that’s easier to argue as being prog rock. This is quite a cool piece of music and has some intriguing lyrical bits. The piano is haunting at times.
The Moon Is Torn

I don’t think I heard any keyboards at all here. Instead the bass and vocals carry the whole song. It’s another haunting number. The unusual format and arrangement make this unique.

It's Still Light Out

Jazz and progressive rock blend in this slow moving song. I like this one a lot. It gets quite powerful at times. It’s a great way to end the disc.

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