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Farpoint - 2011 - "Kindred"

(51:22, 10t Records)


*****+
                 

TRACK LIST:

1.  Calling Out 4:55
2.  Still Water 5:04
3.  Unity 1:59
4.  Another Day 4:36
5.  Water of Life 10:00
6.  Live for Him 5:26
7.  Indian Summer 2:38
8.  By My Side 3:55
9.  Vacant Halls 6:44
10. Freedom Road 6:05

LINEUP:

Dean Hallal  vocals 
Dave Auerbach  guitars 
Kevin Jarvis  keyboards; guitars; vocals
Jennifer Meeks  flute; vocals
Frank Tyson  bass; vocals
Rick Walker - drums
With:
Jeff Hodges  percussion; keyboards, sampling

Prolusion. The US act FARPOINT has been around in one form or another since 1997, when Kevin Jarvis and Rick Walker hooked up and decided to form a band. They have been active as a live and recording unit ever since, with 5 full-length albums to their name. The most recent of these is "Kindred", which was issued by the US label 10t Records in the summer of 2011.

Analysis. Sometimes listening to a band will give you strong associations towards some aspects of their nature. Some artists give the impression that they are a live band first and foremost for instance, giving off a vibe that they really don't thrive inside a studio environment. Others might for some reason or other relay a strong feeling of compositions crafted with meticulous detail, where one can imagine the composer(s) using endless hours fine-tuning each and every second of all the creations. As far as Farpoint is concerned, most of their material suggests a solitary songwriter using the acoustic guitar to construct lead motifs, later to be worked on in the studio to add refined arrangements to what started out as a singer/songwriter creation or, possibly, a hymn. And while the reality of the compositional approach of this unit may be completely different, the religious sensibilities of their creations are a detail hard to miss, and the central role of the acoustic guitar and the manner in which it is utilized makes comparisons towards the singer/songwriter type of material inevitable, at best resulting in positive, spirited and uplifting creations, with flute inserts adding a touch of folk music to the proceedings, while gentle digital strings or subtly supplemental keyboard textures add a touch of symphonic art rock to this musical potpourri. A special mention of the rhythm department is in order too, as drummer Walker in particular adds some nifty and often sophisticated details to the proceedings that manage to add a great deal of life to these creations by way of intriguing and at times unexpected maneuvers. Other songs appear to be slightly more uneven, however. The exaggerated use of the bass guitar as a contrasting element on the pastoral epic Water of Life will be an acquired taste, I presume, and the darker-toned, rich arrangement on the following Live for Him doesn't really suit this band to my ears. There are some fine moments on both tracks by all means, but also some parts that come across as slightly awkward. In the association department, my feeling is that Farpoint is trying to stretch beyond their comfort zone on these occasions, and stretching just a bit too far. Fans of progressive rock might note down that this band by and large might be described as one hovering in the borderlands between mainstream rock and art rock. And that most aspects of the latter are catered for by way of arrangements rather than compositional structure or instrumental virtuosity. As far as artist comparisons go, I have a hard time finding anyone I'm vastly familiar that fits the scope of this act. The more accessible parts of Neal Morse's repertoire come to mind, but more in terms of mood than compositions as such. Other than that, a general description as positive, uplifting and accessible with distinct singer/songwriter sensibilities is the closest I can get on this one.

Conclusion. Neither demanding nor challenging in any manner worth mentioning, spirited and positive moods is the name of the game for Farpoint on their latest production. Accessible compositions with an emphasis on melodies where the acoustic guitar is the main provider of lead motifs prevail. Subtle details from folk music and symphonic art rock flavor the arrangements, and occasional sophisticated structural maneuvers add an art rock dimension to the proceedings. By and large an album that should appeal to those who enjoy advanced singer/songwriter material in my opinion; most songs possess just as much appeal to a mainstream-oriented audience as to one with their main preferences within the art rock universe.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: October 12, 2011
The Rating Room


Related Links:

10T Records
Farpoint


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