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Orphan Project - 2003 - "Orphan Found"

(59 min, 'OP')

TRACK LIST:                             

1.  Coming Into View I 6:25
2.  Chosen 6:00
3.  Full But Lonely 4:01
4.  Leaving My Seat at the Table 6:11
5.  Trickle Down 4:27
6.  Coming Into View II 5:17
7.  See What He Sees 4:11
8.  Orphan Found 5:08 
9.  Parts As One 4:35
10. Paupers Unfulfilled 5:13
11. Coming Into View III 7:01
12. Outro 1:05

All tracks: by Wenger & Lankford.
Produced by Correlli, J. Grant & Wenger.


Shane Lankford - lead vocals
John Wenger - vocals; keyboards; guitars 
Scott Spivey - guitars; b/vocals
Colin McGough - bass; b/vocals
Tim Kehring - drums
Tony Correlli - keyboards
Cindy King - violins
Helen Hausmann - violins
Ben Hardestry - cellos
Sean Molinar - drums 

Prolusion. One of the US units of the international Christian Prog Rock movement, ORPHAN PROJECT was formed in 2001, when Shane Lankford (About A Day) suggested to John Wenger (Mars Hill, solo) an idea to create a concept album about adopted orphan children, the theme being inspired by Lankford's memories about his childhood, when he was growing up in the family of adoptive parents. The meeting resulted in the birth of a new band, which, two years later, released their debut album, "Orphan Found".

Analysis. The transparent semi-acoustic beginning of Coming Into View I, which opens the album, becomes gradually denser and heavier. Then arrives Shane Lankford, with original, strong vocals of a wide timbre diapason. Everything breathes with power, solidity and taste. However, most of the song is constructed by the couplet-refrain standard, with many repetitions and the 'square' measure. The band really shines only in its free instrumental flight, which, however, happens too rarely to fully satisfy even an average Prog lover. It must be noted right now that all the said matters are typical for many of the presented tracks, but, thankfully, not for all. Chosen follows in a similar direction, though it has a strong sense of the '70s in places, particularly when the keyboards come to the fore. The third song, Full But Lonely, is both anxious and expressive, effectively combining heaviness with a pronounced melodiousness. The instrumental interlude is simply brilliant, but the vocal-based arrangements, alas, are still squeezed in the cage of repetitive couplets and refrains. The next number: Leaving My Seat at the Table caused me to rejoice with the appearance of violins. The alternation of transparence and power, the melodic and harmonic decisions arouse instant associations with Kansas. But the Orphans somewhat lack the dexterity and the unpredictability that were (and still are!) so much peculiar to their legendary countrymen. It seems the song: See What He Sees was placed at the core of the album not without purpose. Although performed without the rhythm section, this is the strongest track here, a kind of progressive culmination. The duet of violin and cello at the background of piano and synthesizer sounds nearly academic, bringing the distinct spirit of chamber music. The vocal theme is also very impressive, and the whole thing shines with taste and refinement. Orphan Found is also a very good track. I described it while reviewing CPR 2, but I think it won't be a shame to quote myself instead of putting a link to that review. "The expressive vocals in combination with memorable melodic lines make an immediate impression upon the listener, the dialog between guitar and violin arousing direct associations with classic Kansas." The further songs alternate with each other in the order of "heaviness" / "lyricism", though closer to the end, the sadness and the melancholy are becoming predominant in the emotional spectrum. Paupers Unfulfilled is another winner, once again revealing the band's hidden passion for a clearly chamber sound, and once again via the amazing duet-interplay between cello and violin, this time around in 3/4. Outro features a rather massive choir singing, combined with the "sounds of the nature" (lapping of the sea).

Conclusion. While Kansas is definitely the principal source of these guys' inspiration, they rarely perform as diverse or inflammatory as their benefactors, despite the fact that that they are certainly able to do that (I'm just remembering the best tracks). All in all, most of the album can be viewed as a cross between Enchant, Ten and late Threshold, though unlike Kansas, these are relativist points of comparison, 'responsible' for giving you the idea of the music's structure and the average level of its complexity. "Orphan Found" was created with the purpose to satisfy both the epicures and those into mainstream Rock, i.e. to please a maximally wide audience, which is always a doubtful adventure. The rating reflects the actual state of affairs. Please have a look into the Rating Room if you forgot how it looks for quite some time now.

VM: September 3, 2005

Related Links:

Orphan Project


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