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Salem Hill - Mimi's Magic Moment CD (album) cover


Salem Hill



3.78 | 83 ratings

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5 stars Salem Hill has 7 studio albums, with three of them generally being regarded as their top efforts: Robbery of Murder, Be and their latest Mimi's Magic Moment. While ROM and Be are full of regular length songs, MMM is filled with 3 epics and a fourth shorter song, which still clocks in at over 7 minutes. SH had previously done a 33-minute song on Not Everybody's Gold, so they knew a thing or two about stretching out. And in my opinion, they reached their pinnacle on MMM and I have no hesitation with awarding it 5 stars. And if you enjoy beautiful music with loads of melody, I think you will be on board with that assessment.

The two main forces behind SH are Carl Groves and Michael Dearing. From the interviews I have heard, it seems these two work fairly independently in the songwriting process, only collaborating in order to tie things together and stamp the SH sound on the music. They both do a good amount of the singing. Groves has a good, melodic voice (he also did the bulk of the singing on Glass Hammer's latest disk) while Dearing has a very different set of pipes with a bit of a rough edge to them. This distinction lets them fit a voice to a passage and gives them nice flexibility as well as the ability to harmonize with the best of them. All four members do some singing and as well as Neal Morse showing up there is another guest in Alyssa Hendrix, who has a beautiful voice but is unfortunately underused here. She does sing the final passage on the album and you should have goose bumps when she gets through with you.

The first song is The Joy Gem, a Groves composition. Morse makes a guest appearance on vocals and David Ragsdale does some of his trademark work on violin. The short song, All Fall Down, was co-penned by Groves and Dearing and features some wonderful interplay by a guest flautist. Dearing wrote the haunting 21-minute Stolen by Ghosts which also has some violin on it. Then back to a Groves song, the 19 minute The Future Me which has Fred Schendel of Glass Hammer throwing in some wonderful piano. The piano is a major force on the entire album, but no one instrument dominates. Keys, electric and acoustic guitar all come to the fore many times in this varied offering. The bass is nicely in the mix and is very well done by Patrick Henry. The drums are another nice compliment to the whole package. They are there and they do their job as meant without trying to get in the spotlight.

Mention has been made of the production by other reviewers. This album certainly is not one of these overly polished jobs that you hear so much of today. Not that I dislike overly polished jobs, but the production on here gives the music more of an organic feel and puts the emphasis on the songwriting, playing and melody. Groves and Salem Hill are credited with the production, which is fine with me as I would not have wanted an outsider getting their hands on this and taking the soul out of it with studio trickery. None of these guys will win awards for best player on any of the instruments, but who cares? The ability to craft beautiful music and to make long songs that are not stretched out for length sake trumps the technical abilities of many other bands.

MMM is a true gem. For those who like only bombastic albums or slick production this would not be an album for you. But these guys were on top of their game in crafting a melodic and beautiful work that is wonderfully complimented by just the right guest musicians. I can't pick a favorite of the three epics on this disk, they are all top notch and All Fall Down is good enough to keep the entire package in the 5-star range. I am eagerly awaiting a studio follow-up to this now three year old album. If you are a symphonic lover, an essential album. Keep me safe in the future. Keep me safe in your arms.

johnobvious | 5/5 |


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