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Salem Hill - Pennies In The Karma Jar CD (album) cover


Salem Hill



3.67 | 49 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Fresh off the heels of arguably the most ambitious and masterful symphonic prog rock album of the band's storied history, Salem Hill follows up in 2010 with "Pennies in the Karma Jar", a collection of concise songs which unabashedly aspire to tickle our ears with tight vocal harmonies, move our toe-tapping feet with infectious grooves, and impress our 'inner musician' with tasteful displays of talent, all while audaciously daring to even go as far as to shamelessly appeal to "the dark side" of prog fans everywhere through (gasp!) catchy sing- along melodies!

The album wastes no time in setting the tone with "Carry Me", an opening tune which strikes me as the intelligent, crystal clear sing-along rock track that 1994's "Brave New World" could have been had the band been experienced and accomplished enough to sculpt it to a state of such perfectionist audio bliss their first time out.

As usual, Michael Dearing's lead guitar work is memorably melodic and tasteful throughout. Kevin Thomas drum performances manage to shine magnificently without ever distracting from the songs in which they reside. He does, however, take full advantage of the opportunity to cut loose a little when the song "Stormclouds in Wonderland" asks for it.

"Pennies in the Karma Jar" is clearly the work of a mature band at the peak of their technical prowess, a group with nothing left to prove yet quite a lot still left to compose, to sing and to say. This time around Salem Hill have their hearts set on a goal more meaningful than earning more trophies to place on a shelf. This is their day to lay it all on the line in the attempt to provide us glimpses of deeply held convictions and they have boldly done so even to the point of risking failure. That is, after all, what artists do, isn't it?

I can only hope that, as prog fans approach this album, they will give it a fair chance to stand or fall on the basis of its own merits, rather than rush to judgments based upon comparisons to "Mimi's Magic Moment". Given such a chance, I suspect that you, like me, will discover that you cannot help but be "won over" by the sheer excellence of it all.

progpositivity | 4/5 |


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