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John Wesley - The Emperor Falls CD (album) cover

THE EMPEROR FALLS

John Wesley

 

Crossover Prog

2.67 | 10 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'The Emperor Falls' - John Wesley (5/10)

Coming to attention as the session and lead guitarist of progressive rock giants Porcupine Tree, the solo career of John Wesley should certainly be of interest to the bigger fans of the band out there. Regardless of his association with Steven Wilson however, Wesley has a very heartfelt style of his own, and anyone who appreciates a warm singer-songwriter approach to music should look into the man's solo material. With his second full-length under his own name, 'The Emperor Falls' demonstrates many of Wesley's strong points. However, the overall execution of the product pales in comparison to some of the other work he has done, and a little more variety with attention to detail could have made this a much more enjoyable and memorable experience.

I have always thought of John Wesley as being a 'progressive' Bruce Springsteen of sorts; his no-frills approach to making music doesn't leave much room for experimenting, but theres alot of emotion here... Unfortunately, along the course of 'The Emperor Falls,' it feels like Wesley is revisiting the same few emotions over and over again, without exploring much further.

The sonic palette generally consists of acoustic guitar driven rock. Although there's certainly more arrangement here than a barebones acoustic record, things are kept pretty simplistic, giving the vocal delivery and essence of the songwriting centerstage. While this means that it doesn't have the replayability of a more involved piece of music, it is easy to get something out of the music, and feel something from the first listen onwards.

Wesley's voice and his instrumental sensibility are the highlights here. While there are cameos from members of the neo-progressive band Marillion, that seems more like a marketing technique over anything else; many times listening through, it doesn't sound like there is anyone else besides Wesley himself at the helm.

The production is functional here, but while Wesley's music has never been dependent on crystal clear sound, things sound alot more polished on the other records. In any case, the album's greatest flaw is it's lack of variety... While the upbeat, almost tribal Wesley/Hogarth duet 'So Bad' is a refreshing break from the acoustic melancholy, things could have taken a much more enjoyable turn if each song had new to throw into the mix. For what it is however, 'The Emperor Falls' is a competent piece of work from a very talented man, although I would suggest starting out with the latest album 'Shiver' or the debut for those who haven't heard his solo work before.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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