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Ken Baird - Martin Road CD (album) cover

MARTIN ROAD

Ken Baird

 

Crossover Prog

4.19 | 10 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Martin Road' - Ken Baird (8/10)

If anything, the wide open space of Canada has been a breeding ground for some pretty gifted singer-songwriters over the years. From Gordon Lightfoot to Leonard Cohen, the country's sprawling landscape has served as an inspiration for such songsters to write and sing their hearts out to anyone who begs to listen. Such appears to be the case with Hamilton, Ontario based artist Ken Baird. Taking progressive rock and adding a simple, yet intelligent songwriting approach (...or perhaps it is the other way around?), Baird presents to us 'Martin Road,' a very warm piece of music that enjoys a sense of moderation scarcely seen in the prog scene nowadays.

To describe the music here, it might be fair to call this piano/acoustic-based rock, with lush symphonic prog rock arrangements to lend added depth. The progressive rock presence here seems to be derived greatly from the sound of early Genesis; although Baird is careful not to be a clone of any other act. While the compositions themselves are quite straightforward, the tasteful arrangements of extra guitar harmonies, keyboard and flute work helps bring the songwriting to it's potential. That being said, all of the music on 'Martin Road' is driven mainly by the songwriting, and the album would be nothing without Baird's keen sense of melodic work.

The album opens with one of my favourite tracks here; 'Brave Anna.' A piano-based rocker, the piece builds up through the use of great, emotive melodies and Baird's simple, but effective vocal delivery. Another one of my preferred tracks from the album is 'She Takes One Step,' which really reminds me of the aforementioned Canadian songwriters. With a really driven rhythm and a very narrative lyrical style, the track feels like it's a twang away from being considered country, or folk-rock. While Baird is not the most technically accomplished vocalist by any stretch, he does some incredible work with harmonies, and there's a full display here.

The last two tracks- 'Martin Road,' and 'Victoria Day' respectively- make up the other two highlights on the album. The rest of the tracks that aren't mentioned go from being decent, to very good, but these last two tracks leave the album on a fantastic note. While I would never consider Ken Baird to have progressive songwriting or composition, the title track definitely goes beyond the calling of a traditional singer-songwriter piece. Clocking in at almost eight minutes long, there is plenty of detail here, including slight piano flourishes, and some very melodic lead work that never oversteps it's bounds beyond the necessity of the songwriting. Lastly, 'Victoria Day' is perhaps the best song here, and a perfect closer to such a gentle album. Beautiful acoustic work leads into Ken's quiet, yet warm voice, paired with the great vocal harmonies I've come to expect from this artist.

'Martin Road' lacks a rock-solid consistency, but each track here does contribute a pleasant listening experience; the album is quite excellent overall. A very heartwarming and near- pastoral collection of songs, Ken Baird keeps the focus on melody here, and the result is an album that rarely dabbles in the realm of the experimental, but uses existing structures to create something special and beautiful.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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