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(48:25, ‘A Secret River’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Blinding Light 6:00 2. No Way to Say Goodbye 6:51 3. Starbomb 6:30 4. Colours of Solitude 5:31 5. Are You Coming with Me 5:14 6. A Place to Start 7:40 7. Passing Grace 6:15 8. On the Line 4:24 LINEUP: Andreas Aalov – bass, guitars; keyboards; vocals John Bergstrand – drums, percussion Bjorn Sandberg – keyboards Mikael Grafstrom – guitars With: Samuel Olofsson – guitars
Prolusion. The Swedish band A SECRET RIVER has been a unit in development for a good number of years, for many years the creative vehicle of Andreas and John, but then solidifying into a four-man strong band a few years back. Following an initial EP in 2012, they self-released their debut album "Colours of Solitude" in 2014.
Analysis. There are many takes on progressive rock out there, and A Secret River has opted for a more delicate take on the genre as a whole, albeit one that doesn't appear to have a foundation in any specific subset of the genre nor with multiple direct pointers to specific artists. Which is always a nice touch for fans and reviewers alike. This is also a band that documents quite nicely that it is perfectly possible to create undeniable progressive rock by way of focusing on details of a more careful overall nature. Initially, the feeling you get is of a band that has a go at exploring neo progressive-inspired rock, with careful arrangements and atmospheric keyboard textures the order of the day, supplemented by careful and controlled lead vocals and delicate supporting guitar motifs. And while that approach and mood is a recurring one, it doesn't take all that long before the canvas expands. From the second track we're also introduced to another detail that is a recurring feature throughout: careful instrument details with more of a jazz and jazz-rock-oriented style, primarily delivered by the bass and guitar, but with some nice piano motifs and rhythms also providing details of that nature in most of the remaining songs on this CD. The band also has a firmer expression in their repertoire, as documented on third track Starbomb and concluding piece On the Line, where traces of AOR-style rock makes occasional appearances. One might also note that at least some of the keyboard arrangements that have more of a neo-progressive tinge to them also explore melody lines that, at least to my mind, appear to have a subtle folk music tinge to them, exploring melodies and harmonies that may be inspired by Scandinavian folk music. The end result is a pleasant album of mostly delicate music, fairly engaging in its best moments, and the manner in which the band may include ballad-oriented passages, neo progressive-tinged sequences and jazz-rock oriented interludes in a smooth and natural-sounding manner in a composition is delightful at times. Personally I found the compositions that had more of an AOR touch to them to be the least interesting, and on a couple of occasions I did find the lead vocals to be slightly off, although this latter detail is a minor one. However, this is a successful debut album, in my opinion, at least overall.
Conclusion. The delicate blend of details that arguably can be traced back to neo-progressive rock, jazz-rock and AOR-ish rock that makes up the outer edges of the landscapes explored by A Secret River results in a fine and rather accomplished debut album. While not all that similar in style, the approach and the mainly delicate nature of the material at hand here makes me suspect that this is a band and an album that might appeal very well to those with an affection for bands such as Camel. In addition I would suspect that many with an affection for neo-progressive rock should find this CD appealing, and then in particular those who prefer music of that type to be of a frail and careful nature rather than lush and bombastic.
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