Clark Colborn - Again
"The Unexpected" as an opener serves as a foretaste of what is to come. Dominated by a guitar passages, very reminiscent of Alex Lifeson in his early days with Rush, the vocals come as something of a surprise at the end and, in case you were wondering, are nothing like Geddy Lee. If I was pushed into a comparison, Barclay James Harvest would spring to mind and immediately anyone familiar with both those bands will recognise that there is something slightly incongruous about mixing the two. In fact, the guitar passages are toned down quite a lot before the vocals come in, almost as an obligation.
However, what dominates are instrumentals. "An Imperfect Waltz" is the first, after which "Lie to Me" displays a good deal of heavy rock influences with a driving guitar riff and vocals which could have been laid down by any number of seventies or eighties long-haired vocal heroes from Dave Lee Roth onwards. But it is insturmentals which dominate. "The Harmonic Thing" is an obvious example and is yet another nod towards an obvious hero, Lifeson. Colborn is at his best when he is displaying his obvious skills on the guitar. He seems less comfortable when he has to share the limelight. Some of the most confident work can be seen in the passages where it is just him and a guitar (or two), such as "Lilacs and Cardinals". When others come to play he seems to feel the need to crank up the volume. Those tracks sound less organic though partly that is a problem with the mixing.
Clark Colborn has released an intriguing album here, one which merits some further exploration. And that exploration should perhaps extend to Colborn himself. The albums pulls in two directions, often in the same track. When it starts to rock ("Stop Talking"), the prog side pulls it back. When it starts to wander, the rock comes to the fore to provide an anchor for the music. Maybe that is intentional, but it comes across as if there is a battle for supremacy going on and it is uncertain which side of Colborn's Jekyll and Hyde musical personality is going to triumph. One that has to improive though is the production. At times it sounds as if it was recorded at the back of the room and for the most part the vocals are swamped in the mix while the motorbike in "Mr. In-a-Hurry" sounds too much like an overdub. That is the simpler issue to solve: the major one is the direction Colborn wishes to take. I will look forward to the third album to see the outcome of the decision. I just hope I don't have to wait nine years for it.
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