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Cary Clouser - 2008 - "Finger Paintings"


****+

Based in Canada, multi-instrumentalist Cary Clouser may be known by some as a member of Jethro Tull tribute band Oracle. Clouser has decided to try out a solo career as well and "Finger Paintings" is his debut album. With a background from a Jethro Tull tribute band, you might expect Clouser's solo output to be pretty similar to this fine British band too, especially as he handles vocals and flutes in Oracle (in addition to guitars and keyboards). But apart from one composition, Don't Know, you won't find much material on this CD reminding listeners strongly, or even remotely, of the style of music Jethro Tull have explored over the years. Indeed, the driving and dominating instrument in these tunes is the piano. It's been quite a while since I last encountered a prog rock album so heavily dominated by this fine instrument. Guitars, mostly dampened and often acoustic, add nuances and textures to the melodies, and well planned symphonic textures are applied by keyboards in most tunes. The vocals are even more central here: clear and melodic, they really add to the songs, except for the instrumentals of course. As style goes, this comes across as a mix of Kansas and mellow AOR to my ears, with a few touches that remind me more of Yes. My knowledge is somewhat limited regarding 70s rock though; so other (read: older) listeners may find other artists that have influenced this artist. No matter the influences, the end result is entertaining music with a certain pop sensibility to it. For piano aficionados, the instrumental Dark in both of its expressions should be quite intriguing, and for those who think the tune Precious in its length of just over 9 minutes is a bit long, it has been divided into three separate tracks. For the curious, and the ones who want to know a bit more about the artist, there's a long interview with Cary Clouser at the very end of this CD, lasting for a bit over 30 minutes. This is an album that should appeal to people enjoying 70s tinged rock of the more mellow kind and in particular those who enjoy symphonic tendencies with their rock. It's not an album that will ever top the Billboard charts, but it is a fine release by a talented artist, exploring a niche of music not too many others are active in these days.

OMB: April 21, 2009


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