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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Billy Crain

Family Matters

Review by Gary Hill

The central balance here runs between Celtic music and country. This is a reasonably effective disc. It has a decent range. In fact, at times it even leans toward progressive rock.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Dark House

This starts with a very Celtic styled musical section. It works out to something closer to alternative pop. Then we get some definite country music in the mix. All those sections get revisited as this unusual and yet compelling tune continues. It’s a fun song and a great starter. I really dig the guitar soloing later in the track.

True Beauty
Although this is more purely country music, it rocks. It’s also a strong cut on a disc with a lot of strong music. The musical arrangement is rich and layered. The song structure is hook laden. This is energized and a great tune. The mid-track instrumental section even wanders toward progressive rock. I do have to say, though, I’m not a big fan of drum solos, so the one at the end of this cut kind of loses me a bit.
Lucky Penny
That Celtic element is back on the opening section of this tune. This is a solid country pop song. It’s a sad song. The Celtic section does return later.
Family Matters
The piano is prominent on this piece. It feels a bit like a mix of country music and electronic. While I wouldn’t say this is the highlight of the set, it is quite a strong tune. There are moments that feel a bit like progressive rock. The guitar solo dominated instrumental section is quite tasty.
Road Warriors
This energetic number is more pure country. That said, there are definitely pop rock edges to it. The guitar again really gets to show some style in the soloing. This is one of my favorite cuts of the disc, really. It has a lot going for it.
Glory (Jim’s Song)
Here we get another song that combines Celtic music with country. It’s a strong one, but not as effective as the previous tune.
Hurricane Helen
A melodic country rocker, this is one of the more effective pieces here. It has some symphonic elements and definite bits of progressive rock in the mix. It’s one of my favorites of the disc.
Wilder Things
While there is no huge change here, I really like the keyboards on this song. The rock elements here are classy. The later sections bring some classical music via a bit of a progressive rock edge.
Joe Parker
The blend of sounds on this is typical of the rest of the disc. This cut just doesn’t work all that well for me. Besides that, the formula (and especially too much similarity in the vocal lines) is wearing a bit thin by this point.
I like the piano that opens this. The whole song is built on some cool rocking textures. It manages to rise above the sea of similar sounds based on those two strengths. It’s actually one of the better songs here. It has some great symphonically textured moments later, too.
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