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(71:10; Euphoria Station)
TRACK LIST: 1. Prelude/ She's Calling 4:55 2. Reverie 7:12 3. On My Way 7:31 4. Heartbeat 4:54 5. Bridge of Dreams 4:39 6. Queen of Hearts 4:48 7. Paradise Road 9:42 8. Move On 5:21 9. Seasons 7:00 10. Reprise 3:25 11. Remind Me 5:45 12. Content 5:58 LINEUP: Saskia Binder - vocals Hoyt Binder - guitars, banjo, mandolin, vocals Ronald Van Deurzen - piano, Hammond Trevor Llloyd - strings Tollak Ollestad - harmonica Rebecca Kleinman - flute Paulo Gustavo - bass Chris Quirarte - drums Mike Disarro . backing vocals Bobby Albright - percussion
Prolusion. US band EUPHORIA STATION was formed back in 2015, with Saskia Binder and Hoyt Binder as the founding and principal members. They released their debut album "One Heart" in 2017, and two years later their sophomore production "The Reverie Suite" appeared. Both albums were self-released by the band.
Analysis. The band's self description on Facebook reads as follows: "Euphoria Station is an LA based progressive rock band who’s music is a blend of Americana and rock with progressive tinges", a description that by and large is correct in my opinion. This is a band that create I have a hard time imagining that anyone not living in the US could create, note due to the described mix of influences alone but also because of the manner in which it is handled. Many of the songs here are distinctly lead vocal dominated, and singer Saskia Binder does have a distinct voice as well. Which gives the songs a strong mark of identity in itself, which is a good thing for those who enjoy her vocal style, tone and delivery. I get a strong impression that her vocal style would be a very good fit for most Americana and country music bands, and her vocals does subtly emphasize the Americana aspect of this production. The progressive rock heritage of this band is arguably most defined in song structures, as many songs, especially the longer ones, weave in and out of landscapes with a fair share of alterations in pace, intensity and arrangements. The inclusion of occasional pastoral moments is another tip of the hat in the direction of progressive rock, and on the sections where guitars, organ and the violin combine in more expansive arrangements I do note similarities to good, old Kansas. Another progressive aspect is that this is also a concept album. The Americana details are the ones that define this production for me however. The liberal use of harmonica, the acoustic guitar, mandolin and the banjo, some blues-tinged acoustic and electric combined moments, and the violin occasionally played in a manner that makes the use of the word fiddle most appropriate indeed. This, alongside the lead vocals, makes this aspect of the album rather dominant. We're also treated to some songs that have a bit more of an AOR feel to them in the flavoring department, and then a 70's oriented manner of it at that. The ballads are more timeless in mood and spirit, and arguably with more of a commercial and straightforward nature to them. All in all I do find this to be a pleasant album, but for my taste in music the Americana details are a bit too dominating here and too many of the songs strikes me as too smooth and too easygoing. Accessible for sure, and music that should be attractive to a broad listener mass well beyond the progressive rock universe at that, but not a production that made me find superlatives either. A good album, and a pleasant and inviting one too, but a production that didn't appeal to me on a higher level than just that.
Conclusion. I have come across many bands that have used Americana elements inside a progressive rock context in their material, but a straight forward and more encompassing blend of the kind Euphoria Station have created here is something of a novelty for me. For that reason my thoughts are that this is an album that will have a higher chance of being found appealing inside the borders of the US, as well as being a CD for curious Americana fans and liberal minded progressive rock fans that also know and love some Americana and similar kinds of music now and then.
Progmessor: June 2020
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