My Review of 'Big Sky' by The Syn
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Joined: January 22 2006
Location: Virginia USA
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Topic: My Review of 'Big Sky' by The Syn
Posted: April 11 2009 at 11:45
No, I am not unbiased, but thought that folks might be interested anyway:
Review of 'Big Sky' by The Syn – Music and Education as Partners for Positive Change
The Syn's new 2009 album 'Big Sky' takes the band's benchmark 2005 offering 'Syndestructible' to the next level with both a new thematic urgency and a broader and more widely accessible melodic direction. Syn founding member, lead vocalist, and songwriter Steve Nardelli stays true to his classic themes of the power of dreams and aspirations; to his belief that everyone has worth and that everyone matters; and to his conviction that hope and love spring eternal. However, although “There is a bigger sky, there is an ocean wide, and it’s waiting” there is now “a city burned” and it is “ time for renewal, no hesitating.”
The songs that Nardelli wrote for 'Big Sky' flow seamlessly into each other and form a coherent, positive, yet increasingly alarmed and alarming impression about the direction that the world around him is taking. While Nardelli sings that action must be taken now rather than later lest we lose our “chance to get it right,” he also sings in songs like 'Madonna and Child' and 'Milo' about his and everyone's need for shelter from the storm.
A lot has happened to both the world and to Nardelli personally since The Syn's first full album and the band's first music in almost 40 years, 'Syndestructible', almost broke the Billboard top 100 in 2005-6.
For 2009, Nardelli has put together a totally new band and although progressive rock fans will find much to really enjoy here, The Syn have definitely moved in a new direction which lies much closer to Nardelli's musical roots in the late 1960s. 'Big Sky' showcases Steve Nardelli's top-tier singing with his smoky voice and his confident phrasing, but its broader 2009 palette now reflects the influences of Motown, jazz, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan. Before Yes there was The Syn, but now in a much more subtle way. And this is a very good thing. For even though there is enough musical firepower in this new lineup to vie for the lead position with Nardelli's inspired songwriting with both guitarist Francis Dunnery and keyboardist Tom Brislin as core members of The Syn, Dunnery's excellent production keeps the focus squarely on Nardelli, his voice, and his lyrical and thematic vision. And the addition of backing vocalist Dorie Jackson - who asked to come on board the project late after she heard some of 'Big Sky's songs performed live - is simply brilliant.
As a special, general, and gifted educator with over 15 years of teaching experience in Virginia's public schools and as a social work clinician who has provided clinical and counseling services to vastly different populations and ages in diverse settings, I find 'Big Sky' to be music that supports, inspires, at times comforts, at times confronts, yet primarily provides an important reality-focused wake-up call to all of us that the time for sitting on the sidelines is well past. Our world is hurting and requires both focused energy and direct, positive action taken by both our youth and our mentors.
For while the Steve Nardelli of 2005's 'Syndestructible' told young people that “in the City of Dreams, dreams come true” and that “nobody will fail”, 2009 has Nardelli penning an album-length challenge which states that although we can still “find a new reality and realize our dreams” we are clearly “living in dangerous times.”
When all is said and done, it is Steve Nardelli's 1960s-in-the-1990s message of hope and love that really shines through in 'Big Sky', however. For while the “Devils and Demons” of a world in crisis are inescapably here to “try and drag us under”, Nardelli sings
“I’ve got love right here in my heart
And I’ve got hope that won’t fade away
And I’ve got faith that stands me apart
And I’ve got dreams to show me the way”
“Through the thunder and the lightning and the storms of life
Through the battles and the fighting
And the struggles and the strife
Through the winning and the losing
It will be all right
In the darkest tunnel
There will be light.”
'Big Sky' concludes with the beautifully penned and sung
“Love is the reason
Love is the reason we survive;
Love is the reason, we’re alive.”
'Big Sky' by The Syn on Umbrello Records, 2009; a clear and compelling 10 out of 10.
— Steve Sikes-Nova, M.Ed., M.S.W.
Gloucester/Mathews Virginia USA
Gloucester H.S. Benefit Concert Ticket Information:
Tickets sales will begin as of 8 AM on Tuesday, April 14, 2009 for performances the evenings of April 27th
and April 28th in the Gloucester High School Auditorium
Ticket contact person: Diane Lofurno, Gloucester High School Bookkeeper, 804-693-7680
Special Benefit Concert Prices:
$5 for GHS students (with the presentation of a valid GCPS student ID card),
$10 for general admission
100% of the ticket price for both evenings' concerts will go to music, arts, and media programs @ Gloucester High School.
The Syn ‘Big Sky’ Tour 2009 Sponsors:
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