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Ken Baird - Ken Baird & Sue Fraser: Orion CD (album) cover


Ken Baird

Crossover Prog

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5 stars Ken BAIRD's new album "Orion" is yet another tasty installment in the progressive music endeavors of clearly one of Canada's best hidden musical secrets. Ken's frist two albums proudly displayed his fine musical talents as both a singer and songwriter with "Orion" continuing this momentum. Once again Ken is supported by a rather fine cast of crafty musicians featuring the unforgettable wholesome-like voice of Sue Fraser and the guitar talents of Steve COCHRANE. This album features 2 grand epic tracks "Orion" and "Shadow Walls" which are simply worth the admission price alone. BAIRD's music conveys strong romantic dream-like atmospheres and employs as we have come to expect a fine array of classically keyboard dominated symphonia. "Orion" is an essential album for your collection.
Report this review (#28979)
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars The formula has not changed much between "Fields" and "Orion" - lush spacey keyboard dominated ballads with both male and female vocals. Here Sue Fraser's voice is just as prominent as Ken Baird's. The folky aspect is less pronounced, but the lyrics still tend to the reflective and mystical, such as on the pretty "Dolphins" and on "Fields", where a brief segment of Oldfield's "Incantations" is barely re-interpreted. This effort has 2 epics, but they really aren't much different from the shorter tracks. As before, Baird specializes in languid, low energy themes that contrast with.....slightly less languid themes. The songs or extended compositions seem to suffer from a lack of compositional ingenuity, even if there are pretty segments scattered here and there. Development and progression are missing in action, as is any sort of punch. Even when the synths get mildly pluck as in parts of "Orion", reminding me of a young Rick Wakeman circa "Six Wives" and "Criminal Record", they lack the context of being part of a greater whole. "Orion" does not provide the constellation of expressions that I look for in symphonic rock music, even if it is melodic and pleasant to listen to once in a while.
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Posted Sunday, March 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Orion' - Ken Baird & Sue Fraser (6/10)

Collaborating with friend and fellow singer Sue Fraser on this album, prog singer/songwriter Ken Baird's third album isn't much different than what I would have expected from this talented individual. Having been greatly impressed with his fourth album 'Martin Road' and his fifth 'Further Out' to a lesser extent, I did have higher expectations for this album. Taking a highly melodic approach to symphonic rock here, 'Orion' is one of those albums that is graced with moments of brilliance, but doesn't feel complete as an overall album. While certainly something of a disappointment when compared to Baird's stronger work however, 'Orion' is sure to tickle the fancy of anyone looking for a melodic and concise alternative to the generally more drawn out symphonic prog out there.

Although Ken Baird's more recent work has received greater attention and acclaim, the sound here is still very recognizable. A clever multi-instrumentalist as always, Baird crafts a very nice pastoral layer of sounds here, ranging from the typical keyboards one might find in progressive rock, to a solo with the recorder, and everything else a rock album might have in store. The focus in the music however is always on the songwriting and vocal work, here shared by Baird and Fraser. Baird's warm voice really shines here, even more so than on later albums of his creation. Fraser on the other hand is quite a skilled vocalist, but it does feel as if her voice is overused, and doesn't fit many of the sections she plays a role in. The songwriting is generally quite good, although Baird's style of writing always works best when he gets melancholic, as opposed to some of the brighter moments here.

Opening and closing with virtually the same track 'Waving Goodbye', it does feel as if 'Orion' was meant to have a tight sense of cohesion about it, but unfortunately, the end result is something that feels incomplete. While the music itself can be of a very high quality within the context of a song, 'Orion's biggest fault is the fact that it generally feels more like a collection of songs, despite all evident efforts made to make it more than that. A fine example is how the album's nine minute highlight 'Shadow Walls' simply cuts out without warning, which disrupts the enjoyment of each listen through of 'Orion'.

Far from being Ken Baird's best, but the album's two longer, more involving tracks are certainly a treat for any progger. Although the album can feel very unpolished and rough in sections, it does feel as if the great moments are worth treading through the unsuccessful segments.

Report this review (#414368)
Posted Friday, March 11, 2011 | Review Permalink

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