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Billy Sherwood

Crossover Prog

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Billy Sherwood Citizen album cover
3.58 | 34 ratings | 2 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2015

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Citizen (6:34)
2. Man and the Machine (6:44)
3. Just Galileo and Me (5:01)
4. No Mans Land (5:35)
5. The Great Depression (8:40)
6. Empire (5:34)
7. Age of the Atom (6:23)
8. Trail of Tears (6:28)
9. Escape Velocity (6:03)
10. A Theory All It's Own (5:32)
11. Written in the Centuries (7:20)

Total Time 69:54

Line-up / Musicians

- Billy Sherwood / lead (1,2,4,5,7-10) & backing (3,6,11) vocals, guitars (1-3,5-9,11), keyboards (2-4,6,10,11), bass (2-11), drums (all), harmonica (3), composer, production & mixing

- Colin Moulding / vocals (3)
- Alan Parsons / vocals (6)
- Jon Davison / vocals (11)
- Steve Hackett / guitar solo (2)
- Steve Morse / guitar (4)
- John Wesley / guitar (10)
- Tony Kaye / keyboards & Hammond organ (1)
- Rick Wakeman / keyboards & grand piano (5)
- Geoff Downes / keyboards (7)
- Patrick Moraz / keyboards (8)
- Jordan Rudess / keyboards (9)
- Jerry Goodman / violins (6)
- Chris Squire / 5-string bass (1)

Releases information

Artwork: Stan-W Decker

CD Frontiers Music SRL ‎- FR CD 710 (2015, Europe)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BILLY SHERWOOD Citizen ratings distribution

(34 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

BILLY SHERWOOD Citizen reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US artist and composer Billy SHERWOOD is a rather well known name in the music business. His various tenures as a member of legendary progressive rock band Yes arguably his main claim to fame, but he has also been involved in numerous other bands and projects over the years. His solo career has been ongoing since the tail end of the 1990's, with eight studio albums released to date. "Citizen" is the most recent of these, and was released in the fall season of 2015 through Italian label Frontiers Music.

As Billy's career have been rather firmly tied in with the history of Yes for a few decades, an obvious question that will rise when he release a solo album is how close, or not, the music will be to the material made by that band, and especially when quite a few guest musicians that also have been members of that band have contributed. The answer to that question is, I guess, a yes and a no. There are similarities, most certainly, but no, this is not a Yes album released as someone's solo project.

The album as a whole is a conceptual one from what I understand, so those who find such ventures fascinating will have a concept to immerse themselves in, and the music at hand is a rather compelling one throughout, where the focus is on smooth, elegant themes and arrangements employed in compositions that tends to be fairly slowly paced. Those fond of dramatic effects, challenging escapades and instruments clearly highlighted as dominant features while going through technically challenging, virtuous territories will have to look elsewhere. While we are treated to a fair share of instrument solo runs and some of them rather virtuoso indeed, these are flavors provided without using the limelight to hone in on them as the central or dominant aspects of the compositions, instead they come across as one part of a total package, one element among many rather than the key element everything else builds up to.

Acoustic guitars and fairly careful, toned down guitar riffs and solo runs combine with layered keyboards throughout to form careful, elegant soundscapes, ranging from the relative sparse and fragile to the rich and majestic, with the bass guitar possibly having a slightly more central place in the arrangements by way of firm and at times booming basslines, but rarely if ever in a dramatic or dominant manner. Elegant and sophisticated comes across as key words for me to describe the totality, with subtle nuances and details used to add tension. I get the impression that a lot of work have gone into the mix and production here, and that this album is the kind that will reward the listeners by carefully unveiling additional detail upon repeated listens. There's a lot going on throughout, but the smooth, melody-oriented focus doesn't hone in on these details as such, and it usually will take multiple listens for most listeners to become aware of these.

The lead vocals and vocal harmonies, both by Billy and the occasional guest vocalists, all give me strong associations to the music of Yes, and then primarily the landscapes they have explored from the tail end of the 1980's and onward. I'm not an expert on that band by any means, so those who have a deeper knowledge of and experience with that band that I have may not concur to this description, but for me it's the vocals that adds that touch of Yes to the landscapes explored here first and foremost. Some nifty, atmospheric guitar solo details hovering in the background on occasion and the aforementioned bass guitar emphasize this somewhat, but at least for me the greater totality isn't all that similar: The songs on this album are generally slower paced and lacking the focus on dramatic movements and other features of a more bombastic nature I associate with Yes.

My main impression is that "Citizen" is a well made and excellently produced concept album, in terms of style residing somewhere in the neo-progressive oriented parts of the symphonic progressive rock universe. The main focus is on melodies and harmonies, and with the lead vocals given a lot of the limelight here. Which isn't all that unexpected presumably, as a concept is explored and stories are told. Those with a general taste for compelling, well made and well produced albums that arguably may be placed somewhere close to a neo progressive context comes across as a key audience for this album in my book.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars The Prog Collective III

Considered within the context of his solo discography, Citizen clearly marks a departure for Billy Sherwood. While his first seven solo albums were solo albums in the fullest sense of the term meaning that everything (with only very few, very minor exceptions) was done by Billy himself, on Citizen he has invited a large number of musical friends to help out on both instruments and vocals. In this respect, Citizen is as much a continuation of the two Prog Collective albums as it is an entry in Billy's solo discography. Indeed, most of the people appearing as guests here were also part of the Prog Collective, including Alan Parsons, Colin Moulding, John Wesley, Steve Morse, Jerry Goodman, Jordan Rudess, and an impressive bunch of Billy's fellow Yes members (past and present). Still, even with all of these guests involved, Billy nonetheless does all of the drums, and most of the bass, guitars, and vocals himself.

Citizen is a historical concept album about a "person" reincarnated as a citizen in various places and periods of time, including the scientific and industrial revolutions, the first world war, the great depression, the fall of the Roman empire, and more. The concept is suitably subtle and does not overpower the music. On Spotify there are two versions of the album currently available, one of which includes spoken introductions by Billy for each track. Like all of Sherwood's projects, the quality of the songs, the performances, and the production is very high.

The recently departed Chris Squire - for whom Sherwood recently took over bass guitar duties in Yes, and with whom Billy has worked together in Conspiracy - contributes bass to the title track. This session was to be Squire's last ever recording. The amazing Steve Hackett hands in a guitar solo on Man And The Machine, while another fantastic guitar playing Steve - Steve Morse - does the same on No Man's Land. All of the keyboard players of Yes from the band's beginning in the late 60's to the mid 90's are here, with Tony Kaye, Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz, and Geoff Downes each contributing to different tracks! With the new Yes vocalist Jon Davison appearing on the closing track, this brings the total number of Yes members up to seven including Sherwood himself. (Someone who is notable by his absence is original Yes guitarist Peter Banks who passed away in 2013 after having worked with Sherwood on both of the Prog Collective albums).

While having all of these well-known people on board for the ride will probably widen the interest for this album, and as such will help from an advertising point of view, I personally don't think that Sherwood needs their help from a musical perspective. But regardless of whether you agree with me or not, you cannot take this album to be representative of his solo discography. Hopefully, though, this album will lead to a raised interest in his previous albums which, to me at least, are better and more interesting than Citizen. Excellent albums like The Big Peace, No Comment, What Was The Question?, The Art Of Survival, and others, deserve much greater recognition from Prog fans in general and from Yes fans in particular. Citizen is nonetheless definitely a nice addition to any collection that already holds Billy's other solo albums as well as the two Prog Collective albums to which it is most similar.

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