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I and Thou - Speak CD (album) cover

SPEAK

I and Thou

 

Neo-Prog

4.01 | 179 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Distant Planet
5 stars This album is essential progressive rock that all fans of the genre will appreciate. Fans of Genesis, Pink Floyd, Renaissance, Headspace, Yes, Marillion, Radiohead and Porcupine Tree will all find something to cherish here.

Essentially 'I And Thou' is a solo project led by Jason Hart, with guest appearances from some well known musicians. Despite the other musicians involved the music often retains the feel of a singer songwriter at work. The music is fairly laid back with even the heavier passages expressing their venom in a restrained manner. Melody is always at a premium as is emotion and atmosphere. Whilst there is something melancholic about the songs, there is also something positive and beautiful in them. Probably the best way to describe the vibe of the music is by using that Swedish word 'Vemod' that even the Swedes themselves struggle to define to us !! Jason currently plays with Renaissance and this is evident in his beautifully ornate piano work, think of those wonderful piano lines from 'Running Hard' as a possible reference (the cover art work for the album is actually painted by Renaissance's Annie Haslam !!!). Extensive use of organ, synth and (thankfully !!) mellotron showcase Jason's talents further. Jason has also worked with Rufus Wainwright and has recently toured with Marillion and has shared the stage with many very famous artists. He is a superb vocalist too and at times reminds me of a cross between Damian Wilson and Jon Anderson. On the strength of this album alone he is now one of my favourite vocalists.

Guest musicians on 'Speak' include: John Gargano, Keren Ann and Steve Hogarth amongst others. The album consists of four long tracks (the shortest of these clocks in at 11.35 !!) all composed by Jason and a bonus fifth track which is a cover.

The first track 'Speak' has a vague 'Trick Of The Tail / Wind & Wuthering' era Genesis feel to it, but the lengthy and seminally prog-rock styled instrumental section of this song is far less commercial than Genesis had become by that time. On hearing this track alone I knew I had to buy the album. '...And I Awaken' follows. This is undoubtedly one of the best songs I have heard in recent years. Awesome. Incredibly beautiful, tender yet majestic, forlorn yet hopeful. This song takes emotion to another level and reminds me how precious and enjoyable music can be....Hearing this song for the first time gives the same magical vibe as meeting someone special for the first time !!! As well as those ornate piano lines we are treated to some sublime and wickedly addictive synth lines that reference Mark Kelly from the early 80s !! 'Hide And Seek' is the longest track on the album and again at times has a vague mid-70s Genesis feel to it. Classically influenced piano lines blend with prog rock flavours as the music flows from peak to peak. The twisting and turning of new and inspirational musical themes gives the listener a roller coaster inspired feeling of excitement. 'The Face Behind The Eyes' is perhaps the most proggy of all the tracks and there is also something mischievous to the themes here (think of the soundtrack to the 'Twelve Monkeys' film). Paul Bremner closes this piece with a rousing and anthemic guitar solo. The album concludes with a 'bonus track', a cover of a Rufus Wainwright song, 'Go Or Go Ahead'. This song features Steve Hogarth of Marillion on vocals. Whilst Steve's very best performances are usually live rather than in the studio (check out 'Estonia' from 'Tumbling Down The Years' !!) he generates shed loads of passion here. He gives the song a 'live' feeling and his vocals provide a crescendo and aria worthy of Pavarotti to bring proceedings to a close.

This is certainly album of the year for me and definitely an essential purchase for the rest of you.

It's been emotional Jason.....

Distant Planet | 5/5 |

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