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Ezra - Shapes CD (album) cover





3.32 | 24 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars First light

Ezra is a band that has been around since 1990 and they caught my attention by sporting a guest appearance by the great Rob Reed of Cyan and Magenta fame on keyboards. Shapes was the band's first release and it is quite different from the subsequent two albums by the band. Personally, I like this one a lot more. This is somewhere in between Crossover Prog and Neo-Prog. It Bites seems to be an influence on (early) Ezra, but I think they have their own style with some unusual sounds, unusual vocals and unusual lyrics (with some rather weird lines like "The Smith's have got a new carpet" and "I hope he's got some jacket potatoes"). Comparisons with Cyan can also be made, especially with their excellent The Creeping Vine album.

The first two tracks of the album are good but rather straightforward Pop-Prog songs with something of an 80's flavor to them and as such they are a little bit deceiving as the album as a whole offers some more interesting material. Red Sky is the first sign that Ezra were more ambitious while still maintaining the melodic edge. Falling is again a Pop song - a good one, but not great - but after this the album only gets better and more interesting. It is thus the second half of the album that makes the difference for me and pushes Shapes up from a good to an excellent effort.

She Cries is the absolute highlight of the album for me. What a wonderful song that perfectly straddles the divide between Neo-Prog and Crossover Prog and features some subtle but interesting folky/World-Music sounds and female backing vocals to great effect. First Light is another winner with a folky/Celtic-sounding ending. Grand piano and acoustic guitars forms part of many songs here and balances very well with the energetic and edgy electric guitar play and the electronic sounds and the occasional symphonic keyboards in the background.

Shapes might not be the kind of album that takes most Prog fans by storm, but anyone who accepts some more accessible tracks among the more ambitious ones will find much to enjoy here. I was not impressed on my first few listens, but this is an album that invites further listens and I don't seem to get tired of it even after hearing it on repeat for hours! While not revolutionary by any means, I cannot think of any other band that sounded quite like this. It is subtle, but Ezra has something special. The songs are all well written, well recorded, well produced, etc. the sound is very good. Fans of Crossover Prog in particular will not be disappointed.

This is Ezra's best effort and just about deserving of four stars, I think

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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