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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Alpha Mule

Peripheral Vision

Review by Gary Hill

There has been quite a trend toward roots music in the last decade or so. This act falls into that category. I like the mix of sounds they manage to create. There are things here that land near the pure folk side, while others are more bluegrass or blues. At times they even bring Latin and jazz elements to the set. This is quite an effective release that never feels tired or redundant.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
Corpus Christi
This starts with the sounds of a train. From there some fast paced, picked bluegrass styled music rises upward. The vocals have a bit more of a folk music meets modern roots sound to them. The arrangement is rather dense and quite haunting.
On the Moon
Folk and alternative pop blend on this classy tune. It's bouncy and fun. It's a playful number with some more of that bluegrass element built into it. I like the whistling section on this quite a bit.
Peripheral Vision
The title track comes in with a bit more reflective and serious tone. Country and bluegrass sounds merge with the folk basis. It's another classy piece on a disc full of classy music.
The Distance
This is definitely one of my favorite tunes here. The arrangement is lush and powerful. The song is more pure folk music, but it has some hints of jazz. It is packed with emotion and just so tasty.
Bluesy rock and other forms of roots music are on hand here. This is another highlight. It has a real old-school blues vibe to it. The organ and harmonica really add to the retro texture.
Mule in the Mine
Another with a lot of bluesy sound in the mix, this has more of that bluegrass vibe. I'm also reminded a bit of Canned Heat. This is good stuff and the slide guitar and harmonica both lend a lot to it.
Step Outside
More pure folk music meets adult contemporary, this provides some variety. I'm just not a big fan of the tune. It's sort of an alternative styled ballad in a lot of ways. It's not bad. It's just not at the same level as a lot of the rest of the material here.
The Ballad of Huell Howser
This instrumental is intricate and quite powerful. Multiple layers of instrumental magic dance around one another. It's folky, mellow rock-like and just cool.
Music of our Hearts
There is a great Latin vibe to this cut. It has some nice horns and an intriguing sound. This is a folk-oriented piece that works so well. I love the horn and guitar duet section later in the piece.
The closing cut is another ballad. While this is evocative, it also feels a bit lackluster. I don't think ending the disc with this was a great plan. It seems like a bit of a let-down. Just like "Step Outside," it's not a bad tune. It's just not as strong as the rest of the stuff here. They set the bar too high.
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