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(50:48; Soft Monkey Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. My Calliope 5:15 2. The Way I Love 5:10 3. Down 4:14 4. Ghost of My Father 5:16 5. Mimsy 0:46 6. Wrong Side 4:40 7. You Don't Know 3:37 8. Signs 3:51 9. The Pattern 5:40 10. Fuck the Wall 4:12 11. The Light of Love 8:07 LINEUP: Dean Madonia - vocals, all instruments
Prolusion. US composer and musician Dean MADONIA has been active in the music business since the 1980's, both playing in bands and releasing his own music along the way. In progressive rock circles he is probably best known for his production "Shadow To Shadow, Dean Madonia's Frankenstein", which was released a few years ago. "My Calliope" is his most recent solo album, and was released through Madonia's own label Soft Monkey Music towards the end of 2019.
Analysis. Dean Madonia appears to have quite the varied background as a musician, but when listening to this album I do rather suspect that one aspect of life that has made a mark on him and made a musical impact is when he relocated to Nashville. While I wouldn't describe this album as something typically Nashville as such, at least there are more pointers oriented in that direction than towards progressive rock as such. Americana being something of a key word as far as I'm concerned. While not strictly an Americana album either, "My Calliope" is a production where the Americana elements runs like a red thread throughout. Mainly by way of acoustic and clean guitars and the notes and movements they are used for, often as strict undercurrents rather than as dominant textures, but just about always present in one form or another. In another day and age, many of these features would probably have been described with words such as singer/songwriter, country and blues of course, but again with something of an emphasis on the mainly minor but constant placement of these impulses. Upon this foundation Madonia heads off into different directions. Regular, radio oriented rock music and AOR style rock and hard rock appears to be the main choices throughout, with occasional indie and alternative rock seasoning as well as what to me sounds like small nods in the direction of bands such as Styx and, to a lesser extent, Ambrosia and The Beatles. Cue the strings used on 'You Don't Know' for the latter reference. The clear highlight for me personally, on many levels, is the energetic, funky and spirited 'Fuck the Wall', a song one might suspect to be a slight tad political in the lyrics department too. Progressive rock fans does get a nod in their direction on concluding song 'The Light of Love', the longest and most expressive of the compositions provided on this album, but with the main progressive rock content being a vocals and harmony arrangement in the final third that should sound familiar to just about any fans of legendary progressive rock band Yes
Conclusion. "My Calliope" doesn't strike me as an album that will find too much favor among ardent fans of progressive rock. But for those who enjoy a wider taste in music, and doesn't mind some AOR flavored Americana to find it's way into their headphones with only occasional nods to more challenging musical fare, this is an album that certainly merits a check.
Progmessor: April 2020
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