This is an intriguing disc that has moments of sheer brilliance. Even the songs that fall short of that level have plenty of charm. At times there’s a bit of an awkward air to the vocals, though. That said, it never gets to the point of really interfering with the enjoyment of the song.
“Do It in the Name of Love” opens with a killer retro rock sound. This has a swing sort of feeling to it, but with more of a rockabilly texture. It’s almost as if Atomic Fireballs were to create music with The Stray Cats. It’s a real screamer and has a tasty melodic guitar solo. “Photoshop Girlfriend” is a fun rocker that feels a bit more modern. It’s got a little bit of an off-kilter edge to it and still accessible.
“Color Blind” takes it into territory that’s certainly metallic. Whether it’s real metal or not might be a question of degrees. It’s certainly crunchy and it’s frantic. It’s also a great tune on a disc that has quite a few great tunes. It presents yet another side to Link’s musical personality. The variety is continued with “Bionic Man.” It starts with an acoustic guitar based sound that’s a bit weird and quite proggy. There’s a powered up section very much like a metallic progressive rock progression. This is the strangest song to this point, but it’s also tasty.
With “I’m Crazy” an alternative rock sound is blended with something closer to heavy metal. While it feels just a little awkward, it’s also very strong. There’s a real pop oriented hook in the tune, too. “Act 1” really fits into a progressive rock heading. It’s more melodic, but still a little twisted in some ways. There are some great changes and textures throughout the track and it certainly brings more variety to the table. “I’ll Take You Away” also fits as progressive rock, but the chorus hook is more along the lines of pop music. It’s one of the most accessible pieces on the disc.
Next in line is a cover of “Sixteen Tons.” It gets turned into sort of a funk rock jam. It’s quite cool. There’s a jam later in the piece that has a lot of progressive rock built into it. “Jesus Wasn’t Hungry” has a lot of energy and it’s a melodic tune that’s fairly modern. It is another that certainly qualifies as progressive rock. There are a number of changes and it gets a bit nicely twisted at times. There are some bits that call to mind Hawkwind a bit.
An energetic folk meets world music and jazz sound is the basic premise behind “Deserted Sand.” While it’s not one of the strongest pieces on show, it’s another bit of variety. The melodic guitar soloing on the piece adds a lot. There are certainly some hints of Jamaican music late in the piece. “My Love Song” comes in like an acoustic guitar based rockabilly number. It works from there into something that’s playful and has plenty of country edge to it. The instrumental section really feels a lot like melodic southern rock.
“Tin Soldier” has a classic folk rock element to it, both in terms of the lyrics and the music. It’s a highlight of the set and one of the more accessible pieces here. Some of the melodic layers in the arrangement are particularly tasty. “Native Son” is a harder rocking tune with more of a singer songwriter or roots rock sound to it. It’s another that stands out as a highlight. “That’s Life” is an energetic hard rocker with some killer piano work. The closing tune on the disc is “Swingin’ Christmas,” and it’s precisely what one would expect from that title. It’s a great swing cut with holiday based lyrics. Other than some lyrical reference to things like hip hop, it wouldn’t be a big stretch to imagine that this dates to the 1940s. It has some tasty horn playing in the mix.
Perhaps the biggest problem with this set is also one of its strengths, and that’s the amount of variety here. While it helps to keep this interesting, it also makes it a little hard to nail down the disc and really get into a groove. Of course, these days many listeners only take music one single at a time. For that purpose it won’t be an issue. Listening from start to finish, though, can be just a little confusing.
Review by G. W. Hill
Rating: 3.5 Stars (out of 5)