Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Mr. So & So - The Overlap CD (album) cover


Mr. So & So


From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
4 stars Mr So & So supported Marillion on their 1997 UK "This Strange Engine" tour which is where I first came across this excellent band from Runcorn, England. The song "Coup De Grace" was truly atmospheric and brought a postive reaction from the crowd at the Manchester Apollo.

"The Overlap" wasn't relesed for12 months after that concert but was well worth the wait. Besides the excellent "Coup De Grace" (best prog song of 1998 for me) it includes other superb songs in "Spacewalk", "Salamander" and the title track "The Overlap". Shaun McGowan isn't a strong singer but has a rich colouration in his voice which makes him interesting to listen to. Influenced by MARILLION and PALLAS,the band also are simlar in approcah to the likes of RADIOHEAD and the more interesting of the modern Indie bands.

A disc I'd recommend to add to any Prog collection

Report this review (#32870)
Posted Sunday, September 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a band who I saw supporting Marillion some years ago, during the This Strange Engine tour. At the time I thought they were, well, "so so", if you will pardon the pun, and I lost track of them really, although that was not difficult as it was to be over a decade between this release and the follow up. With new work in preparation, the band have re- released this album as a free download (see the relevant forum post for the link) to try to generate some enthusiasm.

There are some good moments on this album, and when they are good, they are very good. There are also, unfortunately, some throwaway moments, and the decision really is whether these are enough to put off the potential buyer's interest in exploring them further.

I think the first thing I should clearly point out is that you should not be fooled by the Prog Archives sub genre label of neo-prog. This is, at best, crossover prog, and really prog related in parts if I am to be honest. Mr So & So, on this evidence, are a good mellow rock band with prog tendancies. Sure, there are sections where prog influences are heard, Marillion being the obvious one, certainly as far as David Foster's guitar work and Kieran Twist's keyboards are concerned, which have Rothery and Kelly admiration stamped all over them. Regrettably, they are not as good as the masters, but that would, in this listener's eyes, be next to impossible anyway.

The album opener is truly shocking. Metaphor is a mess of a post indie track, meandering into a welcome conclusion, and this is dangerous as it might put off many from exploring further.

Thankfully, the band redeem themselves in the wonderful, gentle, prog layered Spacewalk, where Foster especially is on very good form.

The throwaway label reasserts itself with Drowners, another meandering track featuring at its heart Kieran Twist's early Mark Kelly impersonation on keyboards, whilst Shaun McGowan reminds me very much of a New Romantic singer whose name is infuriatingly beyond me. Far too light to be anything other than an interesting diversion, it is pleasant, certainly, but instantly forgettable.

Isn't It Amazing is basically a pop rock single that is fun, but, again, throwaway.

The opening riff to Subterfuge offers a very welcome change of pace and direction. McGowan, at last, provides us with evidence that he is a rock singer, and the band sound far more convincing as a unit on a track which reminds me of a couple of the more thoughtful tracks from Holidays In Eden with the contrasts between rock, pop, and prog inside the eight minutes available, with all the time signature changes that description suggests. There are also some nice cello effects (unless there was an uncredited real thing at work!). All in all, a good rock track with rich prog undertones.

This welcome tone continues in the shorter Salamander, featuring some excellent vocal interplay between McGowan and the backing vocalist, Charlotte Evans, on the chorus. The latter also, for the first time on the album, comes into her own with a lush vocal solo, but the track is especially memorable because of Twist's rich keyboard layers both overlaying and leading the riffs. On the first few listens, this is very misleading in its apparent simplicity, because it is actually a very clever and well performed rock song.

The title track has God himself guest performing. Naturally, Rothery is instantly recognisable, and this is a piece of music as good as the opener is bad. Whilst it is clearly written at the same juncture in the band's development, The Overlap has an urgency and emotion palpably missing from Metaphor, and for the first time you hear Leon Parr's drums and McGowan's bass leading rather than following the action.

The best is saved until last. Coup De Grace is precisely that, an epic eight minute plus track which commences with some extremely dark, and extremely good, vocal effects and harmonies, backed by a heavy, lingering synth. The changes of mood in this piece of music are exceptional, it is extremely well performed, and is a joy to listen to. Twist excels on piano and keys, and we hear far more of Evans, and she adds so much to McGowan's feeling, melancholic vocals. The symphonic passages on the chorus are brilliantly performed. in conclusion, this is a glorious prog rock track which manages that difficult trick of pulling you in and back out emotionally.

This is a good album overall. Criticisms are that Evans is criminally underused, because when she is allowed to express herself, she shines. More of her, please. When the album plods, it plods badly. However, what we used to call side two reasserts this album in a very strong fashion, almost an act of redemption, and to return to my earlier query about wishing to explore further, then the answer is a clear yes. The concluding track and Spacewalk, especially, are amongst the best I have from this period.

Three stars. A good album that I would heartily recommend.

Report this review (#476463)
Posted Tuesday, July 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars While Mr. So & So seemingly had built a good public profile with good sales, plenty of interviews and strong radio airplay, first few problems appeared in the horizon.The band failed to establish a management first approaching Colin Harvey, then Steve Grady and returned back to self-promotion values.Only when they caught the attention of Marillion's Steve Rothery, they got signed by his short-lived Dorian label, still the members recorded their parts in different studios, while tension during the process was always present.As a result they supported Marillion on their 97' ''This strange engine'' tour without having a new album out, a fact which prooved to be quite harmful for the band.After these delays, ''The overlap'' eventually came out in 1998.

While ''The overlap'' continues from where ''Compendium'' stopped, there is still something missing in a nonetheless very decent album.The problems reflected to a thin production, but the music remains inspired, emotional and often grandiose, well within the standards of the Neo Prog genre.They still sound basically like THIRD QUADRANT, building their ideas on atmospheric soundscapes, deep vocals, spacey synthesizers and laid-back guitar lines.While their material lacks dynamics during most of the album's length, the arrangements are well-performed, memorable and sensitive with good keyboard solos, touching guitar moves and a great lyricism.Charlotte Evans had become a regular member on backing voices, resulting to the more mature Mr. So & So album regarding the vocal depth.The most energetic parts appear in the second half of the album, seeing the band flirting with a style established by ARENA and MARILLION during ''Seasons end' :More expressive vocals, more powerful guitars and plenty of grandieur during the keyboard lines, fully respecting the need of some calmer interludes with piano and synthersizers in evidence.The overall result is an album flirting with a Neo Prog style fully displayed by more recent groups a few years later, atmospheric, smooth but also pompous musicianship with evident balance between melody and atmosphere.

Another goodie by these overlooked British veterans.Impressive music with great, memorable moments, lowered by a mediocre production.Still warmly recommended.

Report this review (#1162419)
Posted Thursday, April 17, 2014 | Review Permalink

MR. SO & SO The Overlap ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of MR. SO & SO The Overlap

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.