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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Roger Street Friedman

Rise

Review by Gary Hill

There is a real genuine vibe to this album. The musical concepts are not all that unique. Blues, rock, pop, country, folk and Americana merge here in ways that don't shatter any molds. The thing is, the sense of passion, the quality of the songwriting and the general "real" texture of it all makes it work very well. This is a compelling set from start to finish, and it never feels repetitive or tired.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Carry Me
A playful, energized acoustic arrangement opens this track. The song has a real folk meets pop and country vibe to it. The bluegrass instrumentation brings a lot of magic to the proceedings.
Last Train To Babylon
Perhaps a bit more on the folk rock side of the equation, I really dig this one. The female backing vocals are a great touch. The organ brings a retro flavor.
Rise
I dig this song a lot. Then again, you expect title tracks to be strong. This has some electric guitar in the mix at times. The mix of pop rock, folk music, country and more works so well here.
Lessons
The rhythm section on this is great. The song has a folk music turned alternative vibe. This has some minor hints of country music, too.
Outcasts of Love
Here we get more of a pure rocker. This really feels like something that would have been at home in the 1970s. It makes me think of The Eagles to some degree. That said, there are some cool proggy instrumental bits on this song.
Give It Another Go
This is a lot more country music based, but it's also got plenty of soft rock built into it. It's a strong tune.
Over and Over
I dig the great folk rock sound of this. The hooks are catchy, and the instrumental arrangement has some great intricacies. In fact, this is one of my favorite tunes here.
The Strange Shape of Love
Another potent piece, this isn't a big rework, but rather another tasty slab of roots based rock music.
The War is Already Over
This might be the best piece here. It's packed full of drama and emotion. It starts as a folk ballad, but it gets more powered up further down the road. This thing just keeps upping the ante with more class as it drives onward.
Tough Crowd
More of a driving pop rock tune, this makes me think of sound Warren Zevon might create. It's a solid tune, but not a standout.
Runaway Girl
This is another pretty standard 70s styled prog rocker. It's actually a strong song, but it just doesn't stand out that well amidst the glowing competition on this album.
Waiting on the Moon
Here we find ourselves in territory not that far removed from the type of music Jimmy Buffett does. It's a rather ballad-like piece. There are definitely some country elements brought by the pedal steel guitar. This doesn't work as well for me as some of the rest do.
 
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