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Paul Cusick - Focal Point CD (album) cover


Paul Cusick


Crossover Prog

3.35 | 40 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Focal Point, the debut album of the highly talented multi-instrumentalist Paul Cusick, is one of my favourite finds of 2009 so far. Why is that, one might ask. The music isn't very unique in terms of being progressive rock and the songs are fairly short and conventional by today standards. The sound is also largely reminiscent of Porcupine Tree and Blackfield. With this in mind, it's not hard to believe if some people would get rather disappointed after first listen, especially when the record has been heavily promoted on this very site. I should admit that I wasn't exactly blown away myself after first listen and my thoughts at the time pretty much ties in with what's written above.

Luckily, after the disc had spent some time in my car stereo, I gradually began to enjoy this record. One of the best things with music listening is when the music grows on you. For me, this record has grown to the point that it almost left me think that I could live with this and only this record for the rest of the year. We'll see what I think by the end of the year.

The first track, a well executed instrumental with a stunning guitar outro, sets the tune of the entire album. On "Everblue", Paul shows his musician skills when placing some fine, lush soundscapes beneath the surface of the vocals, drums and the guitar. The piano is a constantly returning element in Paul's music, along with the moving soundscapes. This is evident in the song "Fade Away", a highly touching one that deals with reflections, with vocals that remind me of Phideaux. A mellow ballad-like piece with a nice guitar solo that brings the listener to David Gilmour. One of my personal highlights on here is "Scared To Dream", with its haunting piano intro and the, once again, carefully placed soundscapes. Later on it bursts in to full tune with the drumming and the guitar. The choruses are so great and so emotionally sung that I get the feeling that Paul really means what he says. "Senza Tempo" is the other instrumental on the album and a tune that basically shows Paul's amazing guitar skills before fading in to "Big Cars". A song that, to me, literally screams Porcupine Tree. The vocals are mixed in a way that it almost sounds as if it's Steven singing! Also, the semi-aggressive approach in the melody along with the song title is something that could be found on a Porcupine Tree record. "Hold On" is probably my other favourite, a track where Paul demonstrates his great musicianship with his simple, yet moving lyrics.

So, what makes this so good? Especially when it's not that original? Well, first and foremost it's the way the record, despite the rather short songs, holds together. This has obviously to do with the production that is nothing short of fantastic. Secondly, it's Paul's way of using the 'small things' in the music. The soundscapes for example, that may not be out of interest after a listen or two but truly become an essential part of the songs when the music later on starts to hit you.

sampo | 4/5 |


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