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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Collective Soul


Review by Gary Hill

I have to admit that I’ve always sort of been in the periphery when it comes to this band. I’ve heard quite a bit of their stuff, and liked it, but I’ve never called myself a fan. I’ve never owned any of their music before. Well, this new album is so strong that I might just change that. In fact, this is likely to make my “best of 2019” list. Their brand of pop-oriented alternative rock is at once meaty and extremely accessible. It varies well from song to song, and this doesn’t have any weak material at all.

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Track by Track Review
Now's the Time
I dig the hard rock edge that brings this into being. The vocals bring an alternative rock vibe, but the instrumental arrangement has a definite punky edge to it. This is a powerhouse stomper that works really well. It’s a great opening shot for the set. This has some solid hooks and really rocks.
Over Me
I love the fast-paced riff at the core of this thing. The whole tune is packed full of energy and catchy hooks. It’s tastefully raw, yet has these polished, accessible bits that ground it somehow. This is one of the highlights of the set and a real winner.
There is a definite modern metal edge to this cut. The vocals bring more alternative rock and even some pop into the mix, though. This is another winner on an album that’s full of strong material. The instrumental break is on fire.
Right As Rain
Hard-edged and energized, this is a strong alternative rocker. It has some cool hooks on the chorus, but is more on the meaty, straight-ahead rocker side of the equation. While this song is a nice change, and solid, it’s not on the same level in terms instant accessibility as some of the rest here. That said, it really does have more that driving, rocking sound to it.
Them Blues
Piano starts this cut in a nice twist. The vocals come in over the top of that backdrop. It gets an infusion of hard rocking sounds with a bluesy edge after a couple lines. That runs through, though, and then gives way to a return of the piano led arrangement. That section gets more instrumentation and a powered up rocking arrangement as it drives onward. The balance between the mellower movement and the more rocking one is a great touch, lending some real dynamic range to the piece. There are some particularly soaring moments here, too. The guitar solo section later is positively on fire. This is one of the highlights of the set, without question. It is just so cool.
Good Place to Start
Drums begin this number. The rest of the instruments join after a bit, taking it into a cool pop rock arrangement. The tune has a bouncy, 1970s rock vibe to a lot of it. It’s an accessible kind of number. The spoken parts lend more of that alternative texture. This is another great bit of variety in a powerful tune.
Observation of Thoughts
More on the line of straightforward rocker, this is an energized tune. I love the guitar solo. This has a real 90s vibe to it. It’s real class. This does get a minor parental advisory.
Another cut that starts with a piano and vocal arrangement, that holds it to the chorus. Then the cut powers out from there to some killer edgy rock with pop sensibilities. As it drops to the piano and voice section again some classical strings add flavor to the piece. This has a great balance of moods and sounds.
Big Sky
A catchy pop rock sound is the dominant mode here. That said, there are some bits that reach toward dreamy psychedelia and even prog rock. This is a dynamic and diverse tune that also manages to be very accessible and fun.
Porch Swing
Acoustic guitar brings this into being. Folk rock is a big part of the arrangement to this piece. The cut has plenty of the alternative rock sounds that drive a lot of the disc, though.
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