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(65:32, ‘Elaine Samuels’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Kindred Spirit 6:29 2. Life Is a Circus 4:59 3. Wolves at the Gate 6:56 4. Let's Be Happy 3:48 5. It's Not Too Late 6:38 6. Horse With No Name 5:21 7. Drunken Landlady 2:15 8. Feed the Fire 5:18 9. Beautiful Day 3:42 10. Let the Music Set You Free 5:23 11. Children of the Stars 7:41 12. The Phoenix 7:02 LINEUP: Elaine Samuels – lead vocals; guitars; percussion Catherine Dimmock – flute, saxophone; vocals Gavin Jones – violin; vocals Mike Hislop – bass; vocals With: Les Binks – drums Chris Goode – percussion; synthesizers Jez Larder – synthesizers; percussion David Rowe – drums, percussion Phil Martin – guitars; vocals Steve Hutchinson – vocals
Prolusion. The UK band KINDRED SPIRIT was formed by composer and musician Elaine Samuels sometime in the ‘90s, and has been an active band ever since, albeit in many different incarnations. Since the first album appeared towards the tail end of the ‘90s they have a good half dozen productions to their name. "Phoenix Rising" is the most recent of those, and appeared in 2015.
Analysis. I understand that Kindred Spirit made quite a splash with the progressive rock-oriented audience when their current marketing firm aimed this most recent album of theirs towards writers and publications covering the progressive rock scene, which I can understand on many levels. In a world filled with hundreds of bands exploring a fairly similar approach to various niche sections of progressive rock, Kindred Spirit is a band that carries on the legacy of a much older and somewhat less popular tradition in the universe of the genre – the one that aims to blend folk music with rock music – a description to which the word “traditional” can be added. Those with an interest in progressive folk rock with a marked emphasis on the progressive aspect will hardly find this CD to be all that interesting, however. There are compositions here with the sophistication and elegance in the song structure to be of interest, and there's at least one instrumentalist at hand that does venture out into realms of a nature that will interest those fascinated by technical skills and instrumental prowess, but the greater majority of the material here is of a rather straightforward nature. A few nods in the direction of likely associations can be found, obviously, and if I recall the promotional blurb correctly. Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull were among the names mentioned there. While I do not know the former to any great extent, I did come across a couple of examples of songs that did feature a few Jethro Tullisms. Not in a dominating way, however, but more as short-length occasional flavoring. I do find this band to be at their best when firmly embedded in the more traditional folk music landscapes. Vocalist Elaine Samuels has a fine voice that comes to its best when using a softer and more ethereal vocal style, while she comes across as subtly more strained when applying more force and power. Not to any great extent, but there is a difference there, even if not all that distinct. The additional musicians also appear to thrive slightly better when exploring the more traditional parts of their repertoire, and I get the impression that many, if not most of them, have more experience in that area than in the ones the album expands into. Because this CD does contain some examples of more purebred progressive folk rock as well, while generally entertaining and of a good quality, the delivery isn't always quite to the level of the band exploring their more strictly folk oriented material, even if the songs as a whole may be more interesting. Opening track Kindred Heart and concluding song The Phoenix are, in my view, both examples of the band at its most interesting, so those curious may well want to give those two tracks a spin first. At last, the talent of violin player Gavin Jones merits a particular mention, so those fond of a vibrant violinist will really enjoy what he adds to the songs on the album.
Conclusion. Kindred Spirit is a project that has been around for a good few years, and that the musicians involved know rather well what they want to accomplish is obvious throughout the album. The compositions as such aren't always as interesting when seen strictly from a progressive rock point of view, but I suspect that those with a strong interest in both folk rock and progressive folk rock should find this CD to be worth checking out.
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