[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
TRACK LIST: 1. Gravity 7:04 2. Stars Fall Down 5:24 3. The Plight of Lady Oona 13:49 4. Standing in the Rain 4:53 5. Memoires 4:56 6. The Revealing Light 8:18 LINEUP: Anton Roolaart vocals; guitars, bass, mandolin; keyboards; percussion With: Pieter Van Hoorn drums Michael Frasche drums Vinnie Puryear bass Kendall Scott keyboards Rave Tesar keyboards Annie Haslam vocals
Prolusion. US artist Anton ROOLAART, who is originally from the Netherlands, is a solo performer, who first appeared when he released his first CD "Dreamer" back in 2007. "The Plight of Lady Oona" is his second full-length studio outing, and was self-released in 2014.
Analysis. Among all the varieties of progressive rock you can encounter, the one many still treasure just a bit above the others is symphonic progressive rock. The bands exploring this subset of progressive rock were arguably the most important in the early days of the genre, if not always artistically (fans of RIO and Avant-garde might make a claim there) then at least commercially. Roolaart is among the artists celebrating this subset of the genre. Roolaart's music isn't among the most dramatic or expressive ones, and the opening compositions here come across as closer to being ballads at heart. Fairly slow paced and gentle motifs lie at the core, liberally flavored with vintage sounding keyboards and occasional Mellotron additions; they gracefully explore the meadows of symphonic beauty, sweet ear candy for those with an affection for layered keyboard arrangements and rich harmonies. Later on the somewhat more chaotic and edgy Standing in the Rain touches base with a similar landscape, but with darker undercurrents and a somewhat more chaotic expression. Title track The Plight of Lady Oona veers off slightly to the left of these, and is all the more interesting for it for me. Still fairly gentle, with an elongated sequence that arguably has more of an ambient touch to it as well, this epic-length creation sports a stronger orientation towards folk music than the more generic ballad, and comes across as all the more interesting due to that. The guest appearance of vocalist Annie Haslam (of Renaissance) is an appropriate addition to this song on multiple levels, and one that does indeed elevate the end result. On a similar note, the expanded variety of moods on concluding track The Revealing Light also adds to the end user experience with some darker, more dramatic moods added to the proceedings, and the shift from wandering acoustic guitars to richly layered, atmospheric laden symphonic progressive rock on Memoires also results in an end product that, for me, became more interesting due to the contrasting nature of the opening and concluding half of that creation.
Conclusion. Those with a fascination for vintage-style symphonic progressive rock of a more accessible nature should take note of Roolaart's CD "The Plight of Lady Oona". Layered, vintage keyboard arrangements in accessible compositions with orientations towards ballads and folk music are what you get here, with sparse use of dramatic effects and fairly smooth and elegant developments in general. If that sounds like appealing music to you, this is a CD worth taking a closer look at.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: August 17, 2015
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]