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(30:45; Rick Duncan)
One day I was on the web and somehow found myself talking to Rick Duncan. I said that I had long been a fan of Cryptic Vision, and it was great to see them playing again, and he asked me if I might be interested in hearing a solo album of his. A short while later and the CD arrived, and even before putting it in the player I realised I was going to be in for a very special experience indeed, as ‘Mrs. Muse’ was written about and inspired by Rick’s wife, Tina Duncan. One song is from 2000, but the rest of the album was recorded during the last five years of Tina’s life, who sadly passed away on May 1st 2017. The album was virtually completed when Tina went into hospital for the final time, with the album taking on new meaning for Rick with her passing. Yes, this is an emotional album in many ways, but it is filled with joy and the feeling of someone who lived life to the fullest. Although it is a solo album, Rick has brought in plenty of friends and bandmates, so much so that four fifths of the line-up which recorded the excellent ‘In A World’ in 2006 have been involved, with Todd Plant taking lead and backing vocals in the way only he can. The booklet is full of information about Tina and Rick, loads of photos, tributes to Tina from people who knew her, but this is a celebration not a wake. Crossover progressive rock mixed with melodic rock and plenty of acoustic guitars, this is an album which is an absolute delight to listen to. At the same time it is incredibly personal, and I feel somewhat saddened whenever I play this, just because it always makes me wonder how I would cope without my own soulmate (been together for thirty years as of yesterday), and also because I feel I am intruding on a piece of art which is an incredible homage to someone who from all accounts was a wonderful person. It took me long time to gather my thoughts about this album, as I didn’t want the review to come over as twee, as this is a CD which really deserves to be heard because the songs are so incredibly poignant and powerful, with “The Greatest Story Never Told” being an example of both incredible restraint and stunning vocals. Imagine if Jadis were American, with those influences, and one may just start to understand what a wonderful album this is. Cryptic Vision have long been one of the finest prog bands out of the States, yet I don’t think they have ever really gained the kudos they deserved. This may not be a CV album, but instead one by that band’s leader with most of the guys involved, but is something that any fan of that band, or of great music no matter what genre, needs to discover this much sooner rather than later.
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