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(39:15, Land of Oz Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Fantasia 13:30 2. Largo 10:45 3. Adagio 7:30 4. Nocturne 7:30 SOLO PILOT: Cailyn Lloyd – guitars, bass; keyboards; drums
Prolusion. CAILYN (Lloyd) is a classically trained American multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, whose musical activity began when she only was 6. This all-instrumental album, “Four Pieces”, is her third release to date, but is my first encounter with her work.
Analysis. This is quite an unusual album. Only the last of its four items is Cailyn’s own composition, while the first three are her variations on classical pieces by Vaughan Williams, Antonin Dvorjak and Samuel Barber (respectively), she never straying from original scores, meaning on either of those. The best, musically most varied/least predictable track on the CD is the opening/longest one, Fantasia. Sounding like it’s performed by no less than four musicians, in style it overall represents a blend of classical music and Symphonic Progressive (which I expected from the entire recording) somewhere in the vein of early The Enid with some hints of ELP circa “Pictures at an Exhibition”. As a matter of fact, however, our heroine operates in three different modes here. One is a driving and complex Art-Rock that one would expect from a real (and skilful) unit of the style; the other side is classical music by means of that genre, and finally there are moments of pure classical music, existing in the form of keyboard preludes and interludes. These three seemingly opposite (well, they’re all kindred actually) elements now alternate, now merge with each other, creating a wonderfully rich and picturesque musical palette. Cailyn’s instrumental fire and passion seem to add an extra dimension that works well in balancing the more intense and softer passages. What is also significant is that she effectively uses all of her instruments (keyboards, guitars, bass and drums) here, just slightly preferring the former ones – which, to my way of thinking, is logical, considering the genre. That’s not to say that there are no similarities between the disc opener and the next two tracks, Largo and Adagio. However, most of the structures that form the latter two are characteristic guitar Art-Rock. Keyboards play an important role on some occasions, but, outside the classical-like interludes and so on, they are primarily used as a textural device. The instrumentation relies heavily on guitar whose leads, while truly masterful, sometimes seem to drag on, because the backdrop behind them is fairly poor. Because of those, often simplistic, accompanying parts, it’s hard to keep focused on the lead instrument for too long without wanting something to change. Either way, although not excellent, both of the pieces are good as they are, even though some of their moves are really more about electrifying guitar soloing than full-blown progressive maneuvers. On Cailyn’s own piece, Nocturne, the guitar is also given prominence as a soloing vehicle, albeit the rock-based arrangements only cover a bit more than three fifths of it. All located in its middle part, they’re sort of framed in sections which, consisting exclusively of keyboard passages, bring to mind light classical music. In other words, the composition experiments with some new ideas that may well point the way toward Cailyn’s future releases.
Conclusion. While I wouldn’t rate Cailyn as a striking soloist (and also as a great arranger in some cases), most of the time she appears as an amazing one-person ensemble, playing all of her instruments so well that many male solo pilots to Prog should envy her. All in all, “Four Pieces” is the best purely solo effort by a woman I’ve ever heard and is much better than many, if not most, of such releases by men. Bearing in mind that she is a multi-instrumentalist, in all senses a capable one, I also vote for her being the best female rock musician of all time.
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