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Saint Just - La Casa del Lago  CD (album) cover


Saint Just


Prog Folk

3.14 | 36 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

SJ's Casa Del Lago is sadly the second and last album of this band, even if the line-up is very different than that of the debut album, having augmented from a trio (losing the sax) and now being a quintet, including a full-time drummer. The music is obviously fairly different than the excellent avant-folk rock of the debut album, here drawing more on a symphonic jazz-rock with a fairly present violin and a mellotron. Again released on the Italian branch of Harvest, with the famous lakeside-house picture amputated by five squares of lake water under the sun as the sleeve artwork, CDL is a stunning album that breaks quite a few clichés about the Italian prog scene.

The opening Tristana features some nearly incomprehensible singing (impossible to understand the lyrics by listening to her) from the otherwise great voice of Jane Sorrenti (makes me think of Jane Relf), some great lead guitar and bass work, good percussions, excellent drumming and a solid violin, plus a sax solo, but has a weird outro that doesn't fit at all the main body of the track. The following 11mins Nella Vita, Un Pianto has a different slant, using some flamenco overtones and often dramatic jazz rock, with a good measure of symphonic thrown in via the mellotron, but the violin as well. An excellent track only surpassed by the title track.

The flipside is made of four shorter tracks, the first of which, Travel In Time, is a quieter affair, with the drummer preferring percussions, but stays well within the general direction of the album. The 6-mins+ title track is really more of the same plus two undeclared wind instruments (clarinets), but then again since "the same" is so good, we shall not deny our pleasure. Messicano (Mexican) is a very different conga-filled affair that develops a Central American feel, mixed with some African guitar work and, strangely enough, harmonicas. It's a little strange, but provides some welcome change of atmosphere at the right time. However the closing Earth Of Truth is definitely more surprising, with guitarist Rinesi holding the main vocals (Jane is very present in the background), but the acoustic piece is so sparse, that it brings you back slightly to the debut album. While I might have chosen to place either Tempo or the title track to close the album, moving the last two tracks up a notch in order to have the album's end more in line with the general direction, because ending the album with such a bizarre non-representative track is a bit weird.

Although a different beast than its predecessor, CDL is certainly no less worthy and it might just top it, many progheads even preferring this one. It's a bit too bad that SJ only stopped after two albums, as I'm sure more albums would've kept the band progressing. In either case, while there are still some folk overtones on this album, don't be fooled with its progressive folk belonging, due mostly to the group's debut album. One might also see a bit of a parallel between Madrugagada and Saint Just, as both had a folk prog album for their debut, then followed it up with a much jazzier-rock second (and last) album.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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