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Sean Filkins - War And Peace & Other Short Stories CD (album) cover


Sean Filkins


Crossover Prog

4.07 | 393 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars I like Sean Filkins' voice. BIG BIG TRAIN's "The Difference Machine" is one of my favorite CDs of the Naughties. I like this album pretty well. I agree with a few other reviewers that it's a bit bombastic, at times a bit drawn out or overextended, and overall fails to really explore any new territory, however, it does contain some stellar moments and one song that, IMHO, deserves to be launched straight to the pantheon of prog epic masterpieces: "Epitaph for a Mariner."

"The English Eccentric" (8/10) is is interesting for the way it feels heavy with out being really heavy at all. A different vocal timbre from Sean with nice b-vox harmonies. "The cracks in the pavement..." section, with its standard power chords, is a bit overblown (despite some nice bass work). And there is a very pretty, medieval-ish section after the "Her Father said..." line. Pretty good wah- ed guitbox solo to the end, too.

There are outstanding parts to "Prisoner of Conscience, Part I: The Soldier" (8/10) (the flute and sitar intro section; the use of mandolin and acoustic guitars in the second section; the organ in the third section; the heavier, bass-led "I Don't..." section; and, the climax with excellent [John Mitchell?] guitar solo from 15:30 to end), but then there are parts that are, well, bombastic and overblown ("mist of sudden fear" and follow-up sections [12:30-14:38]--including the spanish guitar part).

"Prisoner of Conscience, Part 2: The Ordinary Man" (6/10) has the unfortunate disadvantage of starting with a synth and synth bass foundation that sounds like it's been lifted straight out of JOURNEY's "Don't Stop Believin'," and, unfortunately, it doesn't get much better from there--almost "too proggy"--(like some Tangent, Flower Kings and Glass Hammer.) The piano-backed middle "So fragile...time stands still..." section helps--until the JOURNEY-like lead guitar (John Mitchell? really poorly mixed; IMO, not the right sound fit for this part) enters. A true neo-prog song.

The topical theme suggested by the title "Epitaph for a Mariner" (10/10) conjures up comparisons to BBT's "The Underfall Yard"-- which is unfortunate, because the lyrics and their emotional presentation were where I personally found flaw with "Underfall." However, that is where the comparisons should end. The first three sections--one instrumental sans drums with female 'siren' singing, the second including a brief recorded voice of a sailor, the third an ANT PHILLIPS--like 12-string with synth wash section over which Sean sings his heart--is absolutely gorgeous. The fourth section gets heavier, with an awesome slide guitar floating around in the background, yet retains the intense emotion and fresh-feeling to it--and delightfully peaks with a spine-thrilling slide solo. Together with this being by far Sean's best vocal performance on the album, this song alone warrants the purchase, listen, and Top 10 standing of this album.

"Learn How to Learn" (8/10) uses a really strange effect on Sean's lead vocal--which is especially noticeable in the quieter sections. The song's overall similarities to YES' "I've Seen All Good People" is rather enjoyable--including some rather esoteric, New Age lyrics I much prefer the move into the spacey, sitar w/tabla second/final section to that of "Your Move."

A masterpiece? No. But a solid 4 stars. Admittedly, I came into this listening experience with some doubts, but I come away a believer. Sean & Company are for real!

An excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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