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SHIVER

John Wesley

Crossover Prog


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Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Shiver' - John Wesley (8/10)

First off, I'd like to say how pleased I am to have John Wesley finally on the 'chives. Many progressive music fans will have already heard him from one source or another, as he plays rhythm guitar and does back up vocals for Porcupine Tree. On an added note, Steven Wilson produces this album, which should peak the interest of a Porcupine Tree fan even further.

All things aside however, John Wesleys solo work takes on a different style to most PT material, although fans of the latter should appreciate it. There is little to do here in terms of experimenting, or 'prog,' but that doesn't get in the way of Wesley crafting a moving, warm and human album.

Anyone even remotely familiar with the work of Bruce Springsteen will hear a very evident influence, although Wesley adopts the existing style and melds it into something of his own design. While the music in itself is nothing ground-breaking, the magic here is in the lyrics themselves and how Wesley performs them. While many progressive artists look to the ultimately cerebral and surreal (Yes, or The Mars Volta, to name a couple) Wesley focuses on subjects that apply to actual life, and rather then being solely introspective, stories are told with his music. Humbly put, Wesley is writting poetry for the working man.

Possibly the highlight of the album for me 'The King Of 17,' which tells the all-too common tale of a teenage runaway from an abusive family. Let the beauty in Wesley's words speak for itself: "We head to the east to catch up to the sun / You smile as you watch it rise / We come from nothing, we leave nothing behind / My world is the hope in your eyes..."

'Shiver;' while not blasting through boundaries of musical imagination, is one of the more poetic and human albums I've heard in quite a while. I would like to thank my friend and fellow PA member Joel (progkidjoel) for introducing me to this man's backcatalogue, and I am eager to delve into the rest of his albums!

On a further note, 'Shiver' and other releases from John Wesley's back catalogue are available for free download from his official website.

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Posted Friday, January 01, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The clear winner in John Wesley's catologue, "Shiver" explodes with dynamic, guitar-led rock, propelled by earnest songwriting, simple yet thoughtful lyrics, and an elegant mood which will easily grab the listener from start to finish.

"Shiver" presents a variety of songs, from big melodic rockers to moving ballads or slinky grooves. Most songs are mid-tempo, approachable, and very memorable. Wesley's use of layered guitar shines in this crystal clear production, giving us a rich pallette of sounds to appreciate. Although his earlier releases had a somewhat limited impact, Wesley seems to have picked up some new tricks from his time spent with Steven Wilson-- who also produced "Shiver". Fans investigating "Shiver" via Porcuine Tree will not be let down; there is a definite modern, prog vibe to these songs, although they certainly differ in style to modern PT. "Shiver" leans towards an intelligent (electric) singer/songwriter feel, with catchy lyrics and melodies; accessible, but never dismissable.

The excellent, crafted feel to the songs and Wesley's guitar playing is very vibrant, making for a memorable, emotive crossover experience.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

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Posted Saturday, January 02, 2010 | Review Permalink

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