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Kevin Gilbert - The Shaming of the True CD (album) cover


Kevin Gilbert


Crossover Prog

4.20 | 176 ratings

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5 stars This is an incredible concept album about the music business. Kevin Gilbert truly was an imaginative person, and a multitalent on many instruments. On another website someone stated that he could pick up any instrument and play it nearly instantly - and knowing his music, I'm inclined to agree.

I won't go into too much detail on what his beef was with the music industry - suffice it to say that he wrote a lot of songs on Sheryl Crow's debut album and wasn't even mentioned in the liner notes. Having said that, let me assure you that The Shaming of the True doesn't even remotely sound like Sheryl Crow ...

On this album Kevin is mainly backed up by Nick D'Virgilio, who is also a multi instrumentalist to no lesser degree - well, maybe just a tiny bit less. Anyway, every instrumental part is done flawlessly, and at the same time with great passion and ambition. Production is top notch, and the mix is very open, with very little compression. I apologize for the length of this review, but one of the most intriguing aspects of this album are the lyrics, and I just had to quote some passages.

Parade: The song starts with a dissonant wall of synth sounds, which slowly get in tune and fade out. Then Gilbert sings a tasty introductory theme, accompanied by a lonely acoustic guitar.

City of the Sun: Beautiful slow song with a nice groovy bass line, reminds me a bit of the Peter Gabriel pop songs (think Sledge Hammer). But there are enough "oddities" that venture far from pop - huge choirs, odd breaks, and plenty of sarcasm in the lyrics:

Oh, Johnny you've got a seed in your head It is the seed of your demise Ambition's gonna lure you away Into the land of compromise

This wraps up the story so far: Johnny Virgil, a young musician, is tempted by the music industry to sacrifice his artistic integrity in exchange for commercial success.

Suit Fugue (Dance of the A&R Men): This is the most brilliant a capella fugue that I've ever heard. Sure, Gentle Giant did that first, but this is executed so flawlessly and utterly brilliant and convincing ... you have to hear for yourself.

Imagemaker: Here the vocals remind me of 80s Peter Gabriel again. The song is a nice up-tempo tune which is not very progressive, but it's not meant to be - it tells about Johnny's way towards more success - that doesn't leave much room for progressiveness. At the end, there's an odd sample of the german word "Schlu▀moral" ... strange.

Water Under the Bridge: This is the second utterly brilliant song after the Suit Fugue. Johnny has become "comfortably numb", if you will:

What's a drop of water In an ocean of compromise

Beautiful mellow track based on piano and acoustic guitar, with a beautiful - yet short - guitar solo and a nice build-up near the end.

The Best Laid Plans: Cool up-tempo song based on piano and guitar riffs. Johnny apparently reaches the peak of his success, everything is working out just as planned. But even in this "happy" song, there's Gilbert's bitter sarcasm:

You can tell a big man by the company he fleeces Step right on up here son see how your wealth increases Get your Cross of Iron, get your thirty silver pieces.

Certifiable #1 Smash: This is the most direct criticism of the music industry. I don't want to spoil anything, but here Gilbert elaborately describes the means which the music industry employs to cheat people into buying crappy music albums. The music plays a minor role in this song.

Staring Into Nothing: This is where things start to turn out bad for Johnny, he begins to feel empty, because he traded is art for money. This song features beautiful multi-voice interludes on the classical guitar, and again very strong vocals.

Fun: Johnny has entered the phase where he's entirely reduced to money - no real friends, just alcohol and sex ... but the lyrics are far from clichee:

Now Sheryl's in the kitchen with the L.A. Lakers Trying to get herself laid but there ain't no takers Cause they heard about the guy that she did with Aids And she's callin' 'em fags saying they're afraid

The whole song has a hypnotic feel, getting you in a state of trance, just like it must feel when you're on a bad trip - "uncomfortably numb", if you will.

From Here to There: Johnny begins to realize that something as gone awfully wrong and tries to find a way out of this situation

Ghetto of Beautiful Things: This is my favorite song on the album. Johnny is disappointed and get's angry about the music industry and tries to find the artist that he once was. But he's just too angry:

Change my sex, burn my cash Stick my tongue up the client's a** And I vanish into Nowhere's End New Jersey Uniforms, formulas, Formica, office forms Conformism, formalism, formalities

Musically, this is a nice avant-garde track which reminds me of Zappa a little bit.

A Long Day's Life: A huge contrast to the previous song ... this is again a truly beautiful work - of art. Johnny has found the artist he once was, but he is quite tired. The song has an epic quality, with underlying strings, slide guitar and an occasional choir and mellotron. Here the lyrics become utterly divine:

Love came to my house and knocked on the door I answered and said "What are you here for? Go away. 'Cause I'm busy looking for truth.

The Way Back Home: Nice up-tempo song which reminds me of Porcupine Tree.

Johnny's Last Song: This song is the counterpart of the first song - Johnny has come full circle. In the first song he was a young ambitioned man, now he's an old man whose songs are played on "oldies radio". Again the vocals are only backed by a lonely acoustic guitar and ambient sounds - and at the end, the song fades into the dissonant synths from the beginning, followed by the sound of rain on a window sill.

MikeEnRegalia | 5/5 |


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