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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Deer's Cry

Heal the Heart

Review by Gary Hill

This act isn't precisely progressive rock. They do have a lot of prog tendencies, and there is a real art rock edge to this stuff. It's very much a folk-prog kind of release, really. This has leanings on the Celtic side that helps to bring a Clannad-like sound here. Whatever you call this, it is an unusual and effective release.

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Track by Track Review
Cavern Cathedral
Mellow and intricate sounds start the album. The vocals that come over the top are folk-oriented, dramatic and intriguing. The song grows with layers of sound adding some proggy tendencies along with Americana. This has a real folk prog kind of thing at play, with the emphasis on the folk. Symphonic instrumentation creates so much magic later in the piece.
Dogwood Tree
More of a symphonic arrangement is at the heart of this as it gets going. Banjo brings a different angle after the first verse. There is a bit of a down-home bluegrass vibe on this, but the same folk and prog things are all over it, too. This is a moving, growing piece of music that is strong. Late in the piece non-lyrical vocals bring a soaring feeling as the instruments rise to accompany. Then it drops way down to a stripped down section before coming back in with the more intense sounds. There is definitely a Celtic element to this as it works forward.
I Want to Get Through to You
The folk aspects mixed with 1960s pop music are really in the driver's seat as this gets underway. The dreamy layers of sound on the lusher sections bring the prog angles. They also help it to ascend toward the heavens in terms of its effectiveness and power. The electric guitar work on this is unusual and a great touch.
This comes in very stripped back and folk based. After the first vocal section the arrangement fills out and more folk prog concepts are added to the mix. This really does a perfect job of merging the folk and classical things into something that works so well.
I See His Blood Upon the Rose
The voice over Celtic instrumentation opening on this makes me think of Clannad. It never rises up beyond that initial concept, remaining traditional throughout.
Heal the Heart
Now, this is one of the most decidedly proggy things here. It also has some psychedelia in the mix. The guitar at times brings some hints of jazz. This catchy, energetic and also evocative. It's one of my favorites here. Then again, you expect title tracks to be strong.
The Sermon of St. Francis
This is another with plenty of both prog tendencies and folk ones. There are some traditional vibes at play, and even some hints of bluegrass at times. This has more stripped back parts and energized, lusher ones. It also has more of a real rocking sound than the others here. This tune is another standout.
Night Falls
Nearly spoken vocals are delivered over the top of a picked guitar arrangement for a time. I am not sure what language they are in, but it's not English, so I'm going to assume Gaelic. Well, the liner notes say "traditional Irish language," so I'm not sure of that's Gaelic or something else. The cut gets more powered as the next vocals, in English are delivered in a sung mode. There is a Latin Spanish vibe at play The cut gets into more pure prog rock zones for a short time, but then the Latin elements return. This keeps getting reinvented, though, and we're taken through quite a bit of sonic scenery before it's over. The stripped back concept with spoken vocals returns at the end, but this time the words are in English.
Morning Light
I love the melody line on the vocals as this gets started. The musical accompaniment is stripped back. The cut grows gradually upward and outward after a time. The electric guitar that shows up on this is so classy. The cut is another that has quite a bit of rock, of the progressive variety, built into it, while still having plenty of traditional leanings. This really has some killer prog-like instrumental work later along the musical road. It's such a potent piece.
Jesus Sees Me
A piano and vocal based number, this has some vocals in English and some in Spanish, I think. The arrangement on this intensifies at times, but doesn't really change.
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