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Monarch Trail - Sand CD (album) cover


Monarch Trail



3.99 | 154 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is album number two for MONARCH TRAIL the project of keyboardist/ vocalist Ken Baird who's out of Dundas, Ontario. I became aware of Ken through his solo albums which were recommended by James Unger or loserboy on this site. Ken is one of many bands and solo artists that I have discovered through James' web-site back in the day. MONARCH TRAIL seems to appeal to the Prog fan more than his solo stuff maybe because this is more challenging instrumentally and the synths really dominate the sound overall. I do prefer Ken's solo music, especially "Martin Road" which I highly recommend to every one who's into timeless, meaningful music with an emphasis on vocals and exceptional lyrics. My two cents.

Like the last album we have a trio here of keys, bass and drums with three guests helping out on guitars. The very same lineup as was on the debut. I swear the girl on the cover art of the first album "Skye" is the same one depicted in the art work on "Sand". The piano is exceptional on "Sand" but Ken offers a variety of keyboards here, and of course his vocals really resonate with me. I was really surprised to see an over 24 minute track as well. Some of these tracks blend into each other as we have this cosmic theme. It's all so well done.

"Station Theme" opens with bass, piano and drums which are joined quickly by synths. A calm 1 1/2 minutes in with piano melodies and atmosphere. I like this. Synths are back then bass and drums. it kicks back in after 2 1/2 minutes with synths leading the way. "First Thoughts" might be my favourite track on here. Atmosphere and finally Ken's vocals before we get some tasteful guitar around 2 minutes as the vocals step aside. I love how the atmosphere starts to build after 2 1/2 minutes until it dominates to the end. So good! It blends into the next song.

"Back To The Start" features bass and atmosphere as the synths roll in. It kicks in with guitar, drums and more. This is really good as the vocals join in as it settles back. I also enjoy the guitar on this one. Kicking butt 3 1/2 minutes in without vocals followed by a calm with synths and bass then the drums return along with guitar. Nice. Great sound as well before 6 1/2 minutes.

"Missing" has what sounds like mellotron-flute as piano then bass helps out. The atmosphere starts to rise then the vocals and a beat take over. Love the vocal harmonies after 2 minutes then the synths start to dominate as the tempo picks up. The vocals are back after 4 minutes as the synths step aside then they trade off again. "Charlie's Kitchen" opens with bass, drums and piano before the atmosphere arrives around 2 minutes. Synths to the fore a minute later. There's that mellotron-flute sound again after 5 1/2 minutes. Guitar later from Ken. Nice.

"Another Silent World" is a short piece with synths and atmosphere throughout. "Sand" is the ambitious title track to close the album. Vocals, bass and keyboards to start as that mellotron-flute sound joins in. It turns majestic before 1 1/2 minutes as the vocals continue. A calm follows after 2 minutes. The mood becomes serious a minute later with concerned vocals. Nice bass lines 4 1/2 minutes in then it picks up with synths over top as the vocals stop. Guitar before 6 minutes as the synths bow out for now. They are back then we get a calm with atmosphere before 8 1/2 minutes.The synths and guitar will trade off. A calm with piano before 13 1/2 minutes. Some nasty synths before 17 minutes as the vocals step aside but not for long as the synths and vocals continue to trade off. The guitar starts to solo before 22 minutes then the synths return as they both solo over top.

Another solid 4 star album from MONARCH TRAIL. Please check this band out along with Ken Baird's solo albums. You will find quality and meaningful music if you do.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


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