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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Lisa Bell

Back Seat

Review by Gary Hill

This is a considerably strong set. The vocals and songwriting work well throughout. A lot of it is retro-textured. As strong as this is, I think this might be a case where less is more. Had a few of the less potent songs been left off, this would be nearly a masterpiece. It's not even that those tunes are particularly weak. They aren't. They are just as strong as some of the others. There are a few cuts that are so good they just raise the bar so much.

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Track by Track Review
Back Seat
The title track opens the set with a retro rock sound. The vocals deliver the lyrics in style. This feels very much like something that would have worked well in the 1970s. There is a bit of a bluesy arrangement with hints of country and soul to the track. This is quite an effective piece and solid opener.
I Can't Stand the Rain
Still tastefully retro-based, this has a real soulful vibe to it. It's another slab of pure class. This is catchy and I really love some of the hooks and tones on this so much. While I really enjoyed the opener, this is even stronger. The guitar solo is particularly expressive.
The Road Is Always Longer
This is also retro based, but it's not as strong as the first two tracks. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with it at all. It's catchy and well done. It's just not at the same level as those two awesome pieces.
Take Me to the Other Side
A mellower tune, this an almost gospel meets blues vibe to it. It's all class. While this doesn't have the intensity of the two opening cuts, it's really every bit as good as those. It's packed with style and emotion.
I Don't Know What You Want from Me
Now, this is both different and cool. There is a real old school blues vibe to this in a lot of ways. This thing works so well. The organ adds so much to the mix (especially on the solo), and the whole tune just gels with magic. In fact, this might be my favorite cut here. Bell's vocals are so bluesy and powerful.
Always Chasing Darkness
A mellower cut as it starts, there is almost some prog rock sound in the mix here. This is another favorite on a disc that's full of strong music. There are some more powered up moments in the mix, but this is mellower than some of the rest overall.  
What Went Wrong
A bit bluesy and soulful, this is another strong tune. It has a mellower verse and more powered up chorus. It's delivered with an effective performance. It's also packed with emotion and power.
My Love
Acoustic guitar starts this in a particularly mellow way. The vocals come in over just that backdrop with a folk meets country kind of vibe. While this remains as a ballad, it does gets some more powered up moments, particular on the instrumental section later. It loses most of that country edge, too. This is a poignant piece, but not a standout. Honestly, that's more about how strong so many of the other songs are than it is about this cut. On another album this would be a highlight.
This is another number that has some definite progressive rock elements to it. It's a mellower cut. It manages to be dreamy and a bit soaring at times, though. This is another that would be a highlight on a different set, but here sort of feels like an "also ran." 
Get in the Flow
Another folk based tune, this is strong, but again not a highlight of the set. I like the slice of life kind of vibe to some of the lyrics. The tune has some good hooks, too. The organ solo is tasty, as well.
Here is a mainstream pop rock tune with some retro edges. This isn't quite a ballad, but it's not really a rocker, either. There is a folk element in the lyrics. This is another cut that doesn't really stand as tall as some of the rest, but is a good song on its own.
Meet Me in the Space Between
There is almost a jazzy groove to this cut. It has some funky bass at times, and the whole arrangement is packed full of cool style. This is another highlight of the disc. That makes it a great choice for closer. I love the saxophone on this thing, but everything is just about perfect on the tune. The fusion styled instrumental break is stellar, too.
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