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(42:25; 19:35 Productions)
TRACK LIST: 1. A Slight Overture of Sorts 5:23 2. The Wayfarer, Pt. 1 3:58 3. The Wayfarer, Pt. 2 1:03 4. The Wayfarer, Pt. 3 3:05 5. The Wayfarer, Pt. 4 1:10 6. The Fork 4:02 7. West Fork 1:23 8. East Fork 1:54 9. Imagination or Knowledge? 2:15 10. Travels, Pt. 1 2:14 11. Travels, Pt. 2 1:59 12. Travels, Pt. 3 3:35 13. The Keys 3:14 14. The Bend (Waltz in E Major) 5:48 15. The Fork Boogie 1:22 LINEUP: Tom Kelly - all instruments
Prolusion. US composer and musician Tom KELLY had been involved with bands, playing music and creating music since the 1960's, but without ever becoming a well known entity. As I understand it he hadn't been in an active band environment for quite some time when he sadly passed away in 2017. Nickie Harte Kelly and David Hurst then decided to cater for the material Tom had recorded for himself over the years, and subsequently released this on three CD's. "A Quail's House" is the second of those three albums, and was officially released in 2018.
Analysis. Nickie Harte Kelly have approached websites specializing in progressive rock when it comes to making the music of the late Tom Kelly better known to the world, which is most appropriate indeed. As progressive rock is what he appears to have been creating and recording in substantial amount, with or without inspiration from the more popular bands of the genre but perhaps more obviously taking inspiration from many of the same sources as the bands that made a career out of this type of music in the 1970's. Hence we are treated to material that use the piano rather liberally as the instrument of choice for core motifs and the foundation, with liberal amounts of keyboards adding floating textures and more expressive movements, with the organ adding it's own distinct flavors . Keyboard sounds, presumably, used to add in orchestral textures as well as flute, cello and voice effects further enrich the proceedings. A bass is used for the bottom end sounds, while grit comes courtesy of the electric guitar with riffs as well as solo runs and overlays. The inspiration from classical music is evident in both the piano moments and the orchestral textures when they are applied, and unless I'm much mistaken both English folk music and jazz have contributed with elements to these creations as well. The majority play out in a classic era symphonic progressive rock vein, a few have perhaps more of an art pop or even slight AOR feeling to them at times, and most of them are convincing and enthralling experiences in their own right. The use of contrasting elements and subtle details are good, and while the recording quality to me at least indicates that this wasn't material recorded with an aim to be released as they were, the talent showcased is undeniable. I also get an impression that these recordings are a mixture between sketches and demo recordings. My mind was on a rather consistent basis trying to add in the sounds that were missing if this had been a full band recording, and on a few occasions I thought I heard the verse, chorus and dramatic impact moments of a composition lacking bridges and transitions. In short: My personal impression is that these were recordings meant to be perfected, and possibly to be fleshed out on some occasions as well. Obviously this cannot be done as the creator may (or may not) have desired, hence the three albums made available after he passed away will be his final legacy as a composer and musician. But a part of the experience, at least with this album out of the threesome, is to think about what could have been as well as to experience and enjoy what we actually have.
Conclusion. The very nature of the recordings on this album is one that will limit the overall reach somewhat. This isn't a polished creation given a stellar shining in a top notch recording studio, but recordings by a passionate composer and musician presumably recording material at home or in a home studio. But those who can wrap their minds around this aspect of the album, as well as the material perhaps not always being perfected or completely developed, should find this album to be an interesting experience. And then in particular among those with a strong passion for classic era symphonic progressive rock that use a liberal amount of details from classical music as well as elements from jazz and, possibly, old world folk music.
Progmessor: December 8th 2019
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