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Paul Brett - Emergence CD (album) cover


Paul Brett


Prog Folk

3.10 | 2 ratings

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3 stars Paul Brett's discography is becoming increasingly cryptic and unknowable, with his own web site rendering an incomplete account and directing the curious to itunes for the minimal subset that is readily available in digital form. Even some of the "compilations" seem only partially sourced from previously released material. However, one thing is certain: "Emergence" is the first album of original contributions from "Paul Brett Sage" since 1972. What possessed the prolific and talented Brett to resurrect the Sage name at this late date is appropriately unclear, especially given that the credits reveal none of the members from the early incarnations. It could simply be because most of the man's solo work is just that, whereas here he has recruited a band in a conventional sense. Motivations aside, let's examine what has emerged from this "reformation".

The focus is on songwriting and vocals first and foremost, with many of the lyrics imparting at times blunt social and political commentary, and the melodies paired cleverly to Brett's weathered but still earnest and appealing voice. The opener "Amsterdam" introduces all of these facets in a representative 3 minutes. From here, Brett's scathing stylus takes on ecology, big oil and gas, big media, and other easy targets, but interspersed with the lighthearted "Psychedelic Pauline" and the grandiose mini epics "the Tempest", "Evening Star", and "The Pit and the Pendulum" which are curiously concentrated towards the tail end of the disk, and among my preferred pieces. The production closes strongly with the ominous "There's a Wolf at your door", not the only piece that reminds me of the relatively recent collaboration between fellow virtuoso GORDON GILTRAP and OLIVER WAKEMAN. Comparisons to the song oriented period of MIKE OLDFIELD, ALAN PARSONS PROJECT and TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA are valid, primarily in an appreciation for the theatrical and the melodramatic.

The only lead instruments are Brett's acoustic and electric guitars, which are, as usual, technically brilliant and succinct, whether in accompaniment to the vocal passages or on their own. "Emergence" can best be characterized as a synthesis of the original SAGE sprinkled with the acoustic-electric essence of "Interlife" and the bite of "Queen's Shilling", with occasional reference to "the Compleat Angler". In all, a quality release that defies submergence.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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