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(47:28, MALS Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. In Camera 3:30 2. Copper Edge 6:10 3. Tell Me Why 6:28 4. Kituwa 4:14 5. Deluge 3:46 6. There Are No Words 4:09 7. For Eternity 4:28 8. Beautiful Illusion 4:33 9. For Our Love 3:48 10. Two AM 2:00 11. Save Me Remix 4:22 LINEUP: Lisa LaRue Ц keyboards Steve Adams Ц guitars Svetlan Raket Ц drums Chris Brown Ц bass John Payne Ц vocals Jo DeBoeck Ц vocals With: Geert Fieuw Ц guitars, keyboards David Mark Pearce Ц guitars Gerry Verstreken Ц bass Steve Preston Ц violins Damian Rodd Ц drums Claire Vezina Ц vocals
Prolusion. Native American author, composer and keyboardist Lisa LARUE has been active as a recording artist since the 1990s. "Project 2K9: World Class" was initially self-released in 2009, soon after picked up by the Russian label MALS Records, which reissued the album in the spring of 2010.
Analysis. Lisa LaRue is one of those artists that have been around for an extensive period of time that I for some reason or another never have come across previously. If this CD is representative of her work I'm sorry to say that this isn't a big loss though. It's not that this is a weak album as such, but I regard it as more of an example of pleasant compositions performed in a pleasant manner. No surprises are presented, the moods and atmospheres are unassuming, and the music as such unobtrusive. The strengths of the musicians involved do lift the overall impression somewhat, but not to the point of making this an album easily recommended to others. LaRue's own contributions to the proceedings are probably among the most interesting from a musical point of view. She knows her progressive rock, and at times adds neat and always well-crafted symphonic-inspired backdrops to the compositions. She tends to emphasize the less elaborate variety of such textures on this occasion, with a focus on mood and melody and not with too many examples of what one might describe as challenging features, at least from the point of view of a listener. The compositions as such are rather straightforward affairs as well. Most of them reside in the borderlands between art rock and AOR, with two tracks crossing the border and taking on a purebred AOR sound. These tracks, Tell Me Why and Save Me, are also the weakest numbers on this disc to my point of view: first and foremost because they are highly predictable creations, and secondly due to the instrumentalists not managing to lift these efforts outside of the realm of the generic and cliched. Elsewhere steady bass and drums supplement Lisa's keys well in both instrumental and non-instrumental excursions, acoustic or clean guitars adding harmony and variations to the main motif explored, drawn-out distorted riffs adding darker textures and depth, and some eastern- or perhaps Greek-inspired textures are nice features on some tracks. The songs don't manage to conjure up anything that really sets them apart though: pleasantly performed material, which craft pleasant moods. The sole exception for me was the brief mood piece Two AM, an instrumental effort with stylistic references to new age as well as space rock, where Lisa's keys conjure up some strong and distinct moods.
Conclusion.Lisa LaRue's CD "World Class" sports a title it never manages to live up to, and a general summary of this production for me is that it's a nice try. Those with a purist interest in progressive rock might want to approach this disc with some caution in fact. Those who have a soft spot for AOR and pomp rock of the more straightforward variety might just be the perfect crowd for this material and might want to spend a few minutes at Lisa's website to find out more.
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