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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dalia Davis

Keep a Clean Engine

Review by Gary Hill

Let me make something clear at the start, not everything here is progressive rock. Several of the songs are definitely prog based, but perhaps of the AOR variety. There are some moments that are firmly set in prog throughout much of the album. Add in the wide ranging diversity here, and I think it fits under that heading. Not everything here is really my flavor, but there is quite a bit of strong material on this disc. 

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Track by Track Review
The Power of One
The cool opening riff on this number feels a lot like a combination of the guitar dominated side of modern King Crimson blended with hints of heavy metal and psychedelia. The vocal movements definitely bring a pop meets psychedelic edge. This is tastefully odd, but also so cool. The return of the heavier guitar opening bit here and there is great. The guitar solo section has some classy psychedelia in the mix. There is a mellower, pop like bridge that seems to channel The Shaggs just a bit.
Don't Give up the Fight
With a bit of an 80s feeling to the number, this has a lot of AOR prog meets pop feeling to it. It's catchy and reminds me a bit of things like Art in America. There are some intriguing changes here. This seems to be an anti-suicide song. The backing vocals make me think of Esquire to some degree.
My Back Pages
I dig this Bob Dylan cover. The tune gets some jazz and retro folk rock along with gospel in the mix. The backing vocals bring doo wop to the creation. The piano solo is classy, but so is the whole number. I dig the organ solo, too.
Eleven and a Half
This has more of a folk prog kind of sound. It's another classy number and represents a different type of angle.
Folk rock, prog and AOR pop rock all seem to merge on this. This seems to land somewhere between the previous song and "Don't Give up the Fight." There are some intriguing little breaks in this song, and it's another that reminds me of Esquire to some degree. I love the piano dominated movement and its soaring sound. That doesn't stay around long, though. It gives way to a killer guitar solo movement. The whole tune feels to be intensified as it comes back into the song proper from there.
Keep a Clean Engine
The title track has a lot of classical music in the mix. It definitely lands in the zone of folk prog. There are some cool changes, and the cut is packed with emotion.
When Sunny Gets Blue
Here we get a rendition of a jazz standard. This is very much a slow torch song styled jazz arrangement. The cut has some cool changes, and the tempo does rise up a bit. The cut is sort of exactly what you'd expect of a version of the composition, though. While this doesn't hold any surprises, it's effective and evocative. I love the guitar sound on it. It's so tastefully retro jazz flavored.
Beatle Bridge
This is a medley of Beatles bridges. I suppose you might be able to figure that out from the title. It's an intriguing cut that has a great pop rock groove to it. It's fun stuff.
Moving Day
I dig the classy rocking sound of this. The track has some proggy elements and hints of jazz. It's energetic and catchy. There are definitely prog-like changes here.
New Face to Love
Now this one really isn't very proggy. Some of the guitar soloing brings a bit of a jazzy, prog kind of vibe, though. There is a folk rock vibe with some jazz tendencies built into this song.
Wash Away
There is a gospel sort of groove to this. It's another number that's not all that proggy. In fact, there is a definite blues vibe here. The guitar fills bring that home for sure.
The Simple Life
Folky music with a prog angle, this also has plenty of old school rock and roll in the mix. The bridge is definitely more proggy, though. I love the vocal harmonies on the tune.
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