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Direct Link To This Post Topic: I And Thou (Jason Hart): Crossover Prog
    Posted: September 08 2012 at 23:21

Jason Hart is a singer/songwriter and keyboard player who has performed and recorded extensively with Rufus Wainwright, Antony and the Johnsons, Keren Ann, Nacho Cano and others. He has shared the stage with many music legends, including Elton John, Lou Reed, Moby, the B52's and Kris Kristofferson. He has more recently toured as support act for the art rock legends Marillion in the US and Canada. He is currently the keyboard player with the well-known UK-based progressive rock band Renaissance.

A New Yorker raised in East Tennessee, Jason started his musical education at age 6. As a child, he won numerous piano competitions throughout the South but became bored with the discipline of learning the 'classics' and started writing his own songs. Early compositions were influenced by an odd mixture of musical theater and 'progressive' rock artists like Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel. To this day, Jason's writing references elements of these diverse styles, as well as his favorite singer/songwriters, from Joni Mitchell and Elton John to Tori Amos and Rufus Wainwright.

After a time writing jingles and music for the theater, a job playing keyboards for a Spanish pop star and writing top-40 hits in Spain (as well a stint teaching English to actress Penelope Cruz), and a period developing a short-lived group called "Dramapop", Jason decided to throw caution to the wind and move forward as a solo artist.

Several years of intense labor and thought culminated in the birth of his first full-length CD entitled "If I Were You": twelve dynamic original compositions that bravely convey a lifetime of experience and emotion. Jason's heartfelt vocals and extraordinary keyboard work were supported by strings, drums, bass, guitar, sax, harmonica and flute...as well as several special guest vocalists...musical tapestries which touch the heart and stir the soul. The CD featured guest performances by Rufus Wainwright, Antony (Antony and the Johnsons), Ana Torroja (Mecano) and others.

Songs like the title track "If I Were You" put a new spin on the subject of obsession; "I Won't Blame Myself" was an anthem for victims of childhood sexual abuse; "Beautiful Nightmare" was a funky ode to ambivalence; "Marco Polo" was a story about the search for connection in the big city; "Don't Fall" and "Sometimes the Heart" were 'twisted lullabies' about family dynamics...every song  was a small universe unto itself. That CD was released on 30th August 2005 via cdbaby.com, but is now pretty well unavailable.


 

So, we move on, and I and thou is Jason Hart's 2nd solo project. The band's debut release 'Speak' was first released at NEARfest Apocalypse, where his current main band Renaissance were headlining, on 23 June 2012, and then more generally back in July of this year. Hart is responsible for all keyboard, piano, and orchestration work as well as the lead vocals. A great portion of the album is characterized by subtle keyboard tones creating the backbone for the compositions. Hart lays down plenty of keyboard and Renaissance-like piano work, at times also branching off into Tony Banks territory due to beautifully arranged classical themes and melodies. His singing is more so in the vein of Radiohead meets Porcupine Tree, where a lot of monotone lines are delivered softly over the slow-building soundscapes.

An impressive list of guest musicians supports Hart on the album. John Gargano from IZZ is on bass, Matt Johnson (Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright and many others) takes care of drums, and we have Jack Petruzzelli (the Fab Faux, Patti Smith etc.) on guitar. There are also guest appearances from Paul Bremner (IZZ) on guitar, Laura Meade (IZZ, solo) on backing vocals, Max Moston (Slow Six) on violin, the acclaimed French/Israeli singer/songwriter Keren Ann (KAB, Shelby, solo) who is featured on track three, 'Hide and Seek'…and the great Steve Hogarth from Marillion, who sings on the album's final track, the Rufus Wainwright cover 'Go or Go Ahead.' Much like Hogarth's recent project with Richard Barbieri, the song features his unmistakable theatrical singing in a very minimalist sound environment, filled with rich layers of synth explorations, a subtle piano theme that runs beneath the central vocals, and sweet acoustic guitars.

“Speak” is a heady brew of progressive rock, art rock, pop, classical and theater music enriched with plenty of symphonic & orchestral passages. Most of the album is slow and contains a good dose of vintage keys mixed into more modern textures. Rather than creating songs that will stick with the listener, the main focus is on exploring moods and atmospheres, complete with vast washes of sound and deep space in the production department. The arrangements are sparse and built patiently; each progression takes its time to develop and the vocals and instrumentation are provided with beautiful contrasts. Although all four of the main tracks clock in at over 10 minutes, each piece segues into the next seamlessly and carries passages filled with reams of ebbs and flows.

The cover art is by the legendary singer and painter Annie Haslam.

 

Fans of Renassaince, IZZ, Echolyn, Hogarth-era Marillion, and No-Man as well as anyone who enjoys beauitfully textured ambient passages in progressive rock should check this disc out.

 
Tracklist:
01. Speak (12:19)
02. And I Awaken (11:31)
03. Hide and Seek (feat. Keren Ann) (16:30)
04. The Face Behind the Eyes (13:35)
05. Go or Go Ahead (feat. Steve Hogarth) (6:43)
 
 
There is an hour and a half interview with Jason Hart, discussing the making of the album, with a couple of tracks played, in this podcast on The Dividing Line Broadcast Network from 4th Sept 2012: http://www.thedividingline.com/podcasts/btl/download.php?filename=2012-09-04_btl201209_04jason_hart_interview.mp3 (right click 'save as' -  file size 109MB) or you can stream it from this webpage: http://thedividingline.com/btl.
 
There is also a fairly detailed interview with Jason (in written format) here: http://www.grande-rock.com/interviews/i_and_thou.
 
Finally, there is one track (the last one, featuring Steve Hogarth) on YouTube:
 
 
 
 
OK - that should do for now...!! Big smile Thumbs Up
 
Edit: Tracklist for Jason's first solo CD, 'If I were You', from 2005 (more details and a brief review in German here: http://www.home-of-rock.de/CD-Reviews/Jason_Hart/If_I_Were_You.html):
 
1. Take a Look Around   
2. Hold On (featuring Ana Torroja)   
3. Israel   
4. Sweet Lorraine   
5. Antonio   
6. If I Were You   
7. Rising/Falling   
8. Marco Polo   
9. I Won't Blame Myself   
10. Beautiful Nightmare   
11. Don't Fall (featuring Antony)   
12. Sometimes The Heart   
13. Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters (featuring Rufus Wainwright)
Total Time: 57 min 40 sec
 
 
Title track from it:
 
 
 
 
Smile

 





Edited by yam yam - September 09 2012 at 09:26
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 11 2012 at 13:44
Sounds like a shoe-in, although it may be a better fit for the neo boys. Let's see what they (neo) say about it. 
Great find DavidClap
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 11 2012 at 15:38
Added to  neo chart on PF, and a Yes from me without hesitation.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 11 2012 at 17:00
Thanks Steve!  Thumbs Up
 
This is a fantastic album, which I ordered as soon as I heard the interview with Jason on the Dividing Line Broadcst Network, and the samples played on the podcast.
 
I thought Crossover overall, having heard all the tracks, but even better if it goes the full distance in Neo! Smile
 
 
PS. The progfreak entry suggests this is a UK project, but Jason is actually based in New York, and although his current main band (Renaissance) is from the UK, I think it would be more accurate to class this project as USA based. Embarrassed


Edited by yam yam - September 11 2012 at 17:06
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 11 2012 at 18:06
Good candidate. Thumbs Up

EDIT: Another "YES" from me and he's been cleared for addition. Thanks Davidyam. Approve


Edited by DamoXt7942 - September 11 2012 at 18:13
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 12 2012 at 08:02
Fast work guys! Approve
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 27 2012 at 01:23
I and Thou "Speak" perfect album.
Genesis - Selling England By The Pound
Eloy - Ocean
Renaissance - Scheherzade and Other Stories
Yes - Relayer
E.L.P. - Tarkus
Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2012 at 23:57
and now added to the database too.
Websites I work with:

http://www.progressor.net
http://www.houseofprog.com
http://framemusic.net/

My profile on Mixcloud:
https://www.mixcloud.com/haukevind/
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2012 at 11:11
^  With two 5-star ratings already! http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=7585 Thumbs Up
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