Leap of Faith- Majesty, Melody, Magic
Here we have a stunning followup to their eponymous debut release.
Simply titled “II” (I guess roman numerals add gravitas!), this is an album that bears repeated attention.
Less a “band” effort, more of Shane/ Beau
On “II”, for better or worse, it comes across very much as a showcase for the deep talents of the mastermind Shane Atkinson, and the expressive, elastic voice of Beau West.
Personally, I have an abiding respect for band efforts, and generally believe these pay unseen dividends due to multiple perspectives and diverse personalities making their contributions to the over-all effort.
At the same time, it’s difficult to coordinate three to four or more lives/schedules/ideas/needs, and that’s probably why precious few bands stay intact too long.
In this case though, the level of talent, creativity, and expression is simply too profound for that band chemistry to be a significant factor. Plus, there are certainly repeat musicians on this disc, so it’s not like these are strangers who parachute in, lay down some tracks, and disappear into the gloom.
Shane was kind enough to supply lyrics to these songs, and if there’s a thread, I’d call it “the rather insignificant human confronting a rather enormous universe.”
So, not really a concept album. However, one can “read” something of the composer’s intent through the album art, lyrics, and of course the music itself.
The Serious Room
The opening track immediately establishes the kind of intense song-focus that for me distinguishes EVERSHIP from many other progressive bands. Vibes and lovely vocals. Melodies that implant themselves. Instrumental majesty, grandeur, and depth, changing at times into something gentler and more intimate.
Lyrically, it depicts a Very Important Person…who proves to be a wistful wannabe.
The tune begins starkly and builds, using some lovely choral touches including some Latin words as a chant. There is grandeur again, and again that ear-catching change-up.
“Monomyth”, I learned, is another way to say “The Hero’s Journey”, and in this one, the “ordinary” person must confront the crisis that calls out for action, and in the process, he/she is transformed.
Real or Imagined
Such a gentle vocal/acoustic guitar passage, then some sweet synth runs leading to wistful and melancholy guitar. Beau provides some amazing vocal acrobatics in this one.
In this case, the lyrics suggested an introvert who finds meaning and purpose from books/ideas/music…and therein lies the conundrum since “real” people need love as well.
More heart-tugging vocal magic after the majestic opening passage, with lyrics presenting the perspective of a child’s optimism being challenged by adult struggles, beautifully reflected in the music.
Pièce De Résistance (actual song title “Isle of the Broken Tree”)
Here’s the show-stopping finale- the 28 minute-and-then-some epic album closer, weaving together the tale of a black- hearted villain forced to confront himself in the most stark manner imaginable…and making the fateful choice of a “Leap of Faith”.
I thought of the power of Tal Bachman‘s vocal work on his self-titled debut, as well as Procol Harum‘s live album with Edmonton Symphony Orchestra- with the sweeping loveliness of the music accompanied by the orchestra and choir.
Obviously I have NO sway over Shane and musical friends, but it would be unforgettable and amazing to see and hear this final epic performed with orchestra, choir, and EVERSHIP.
Musically it runs an astonishing range of styles and moods, from bluesy guitar and stark vocal work, to lush, grandiose symphonic power.
5 out of 5 Majestic, Melodic, Magical Monuments
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