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Paul Cusick - Focal Point CD (album) cover

FOCAL POINT

Paul Cusick

 

Crossover Prog

3.34 | 32 ratings

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axeman
3 stars Focal Point, the title track, opens up the album with, of all things, Chopsticks, but after about a bar, it segues into more elaborate piano. So far this is the best song on the album for me. It combines some of the simple piano with a guitar ostinato with the bass evolving a touch of Squire-esque rumblin'-n-ramblin' before it ends in a stately guitar outro akin to Hackett.

Everblue is very Porcupine Tree. It also sounds a little like Cold Play, if they did something that...you know...rocked. Although a some say Cusick's guitar is rather Floyd, I can't hear David Gilmour making the sounds in this solo--definitely more Hackett here. Gilmour doesn't usually stray that far from the blues, and this one is more abstract. Some tasty syncopation from drummer Cromarty in the part before the menacing voice comes in.

The third song, Fade Away is definitely quite a bit more Waters/Floyd-Wall in feel, with a vocal performance that echoes Waters, with just a little Wilson--but perhaps it strikes me that way because both Cusick and Wilson avoid flats better than Waters does. There is a good solo at the end that avoids being too easily taken for a pastiche.

Soul Words jumps back into Porcupine Tree territory, but the vocals a touch more of a Cantrell-Staley tension (from Alice in Chains), only more willing to resolve into a harmony. Scared to Dream probably reminds me of a mid-tempo Dream Theater ballad with less crunchy guitars with a Hackett-ish solo instead of a Petrrucci meltdown. It ends up as a pretty solid crossover piece at best.

Touch hovers in the intersection of PT and Floyd--not to mention a bit Queensryche, (but maybe in the times that they are trying to evoke a Floyd feel as well.)

Senza Tempo is solidly reminiscent of Hackett's thickly orchestrated lanky guitar athems. Cusick does this style pretty well.

Big Cars comes next, and if you can listen to it without thinking of Porcupine Tree, then I have to wonder what I'm missing. There's some good trippy guitar work on it--probably better than the standard PT fare.

Hold On is solidly in crossover territory, but nonetheless probably the most original sounding song on the album. It has a simple piano theme running through it, which is pleasant

This is by no means a bad album. It's enjoyable. It doesn't bother me that much that it doesn't seem to break new ground. It's not quite as derivative as my classifications might make it sound--except Big Cars, that is. That's okay though, Queensryche's EP was a Maiden voyage, despite that it was just the next album that they started having a unique voice. Same thing's to a degree true with Genesis, laden with Bee Gees/Moody Blues mixture on their first one.

axeman | 3/5 |

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