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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Michael Askin

Road by the River

Review by Gary Hill

There is a definite incentive to label this "roots music." That clearly sells it short, though. Yes, the basis is in that direction, but this takes that sound and brings a modern element to it, leaning it into dream pop and alternative rock territory. This is quite an effective set. I'd say that if there's one song that's not as good as the rest, though, it's the opening title track. Once you get past that (and it's not bad, really) this is all golden.
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Track by Track Review
Road by the River

Percussion leads this out of the gate. The cut moves forward from there with a jazzy kind of roots rock sound. The vocals seem to bring a combination of alternative rock and a country rock kind of sound. There are some dream pop elements in the arrangement later.

This tune is more of a mellow folk piece. It's pretty. It still has some country in the mix, particularly in the slide guitar. While this isn't as energetic as the first piece, I like it better than the opener. It does get a more rocking as it continues. It also turns toward dream pop stuff. I love some of the lyrics on this piece. It's definitely one of my favorites here all around.
Sun Going Down

A lot harder rocking, there is a real 1970s sound to this. It has a lot of blues rock built into it. This is a powerhouse cut that really stomps. It's another highlight of the set. The arrangement gets quite involved and powerful.

Hard to Make a Living
Another cut with a healthy helping of folk music in the mix, I like this a lot. There is still a bit of that dream pop, alternative edge to this.
Last Train

Acoustic guitar and vocals create the early parts of this cut. I love the intricate picking on the guitar lines and the overall sound of the number. It's a folky piece that's so classy. As more layers fill this music out it even moves toward progressive rock. This is another highlight. That makes it a great way to end the set.

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