Monday, October 17, 2011

just another cd review for Sean Patrick's In the Midst of the Raging Storm

Artist: Sean Patrick
Album: In the Midst of the Raging Storm

With In the Midst of the Raging Storm Sean Patrick has produced an ambitious and potent album. It’s not without its problems, but really shows an intent to produce something that’s both artistic and entertaining. The concept album format, along with a lot of the music lends a rather progressive rock oriented texture to the disc. There are pieces, though, that pull other sounds into the mix. Just the concept of creating an album that flows as one cohesive unit is a dying breed in today’s era of the “download each song independently” mentality.

Winds and a ringing bell open the album. As the introductory “In the Midst of the Raging Storm” continues, a processed spoken vocal line brings a theatric and ominous mysterious tone. Symphonic elements and piano merge on the piece. It’s a fairly short piece that builds to more dramatic power later. A killer hard rock jam makes up the melody of “You.” There is an almost Beatles-like element to it. There’s a tasty, retro rock jam mid-track with a classy guitar solo. A mellower movement that follows brings some progressive rock to the proceedings.

“Something About Here” has even more of those Beatles-references. In fact, a lot of the lead guitar calls to mind George Harrison. The layers of backing vocals reinforce that Beatles link. “Calm Before the Storm” is a short reprise of the sound effects that began the disc. “See the Light” turns the disc into reggae. It’s a catchy cut that calls to mind early Police a bit.

With “Like Yesterday” Patrick alternates between a harder rocking motif and a rather retro pop rock sound. There’s a Beach Boys styled section later in the piece. While it all seems like it would be incongruous, somehow it works cohesively. Some thunder opens “Calling for Rain.” The music comes in tentatively and strings bring an almost classical texture to the piece. It’s certainly a progressive rock oriented number as it builds upward. There’s a shift to an almost blues rock jam as the guitar screams out a solo. A tasty retro sounding organ section appears later in the piece and a reprise of the symphonic movement arrives later in the number.

“Into the Storm” is a mellower number that combines an almost jazz-like arrangement with rock ballad sounds into a motif that’s close to progressive rock. The vocals sometimes wander off-key on the track, though. Still, the catchy chorus works despite that flaw. There is also some tasty guitar soloing included in the number. A saxophone solo later in the piece accentuates the jazz elements.

Starting with a Rolling Stones meet punk rock kind of hard rocking guitar sound, “My Little Darlings” becomes a pop rock tune with definite bits of punk rock in the arrangement. As the album shifts into its final track, “Reprise: In the Midst of the Raging Storm,” the storm continues. Melodic elements from the opening number are repeated in a satisfying, if predictable, bookend effect as the disc closes. It’s almost a strictly instrumental take on the cut. It works out to a real progressive rock meets fusion treatment later. It also seems to incorporate bits of earlier pieces (including a stripped down vocal approach of “You”).

While the songwriting and musical performance of the set are without any real complaints, some of the vocals fail a bit. There are times when the singing is off-key. At a few early points in the set, it’s not far enough skewed to really cause any discomfort. At other points, though, the distortion of sonic melody becomes quite obvious. Still, there’s no disputing the talent shown on this release. It definitely shows potential and is quite entertaining at the same time.

Review by Gary Hill
Rating: 3.5 Stars (out of 5)

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