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Gracious - Gracious ! CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.73 | 182 ratings

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4 stars The debut album by Gracious contains about 45mins of incredibly creative and eclectic music with fairly complex textures and with melodies that are always enjoyable. The spotlights here are on Martin Kitcat's keyboards (he mostly uses piano, e-piano and harpsichord here, but there is also a fair amount of organ and mellotron on the album) and on Alan Cowderoy's guitars (really spot-on all through). And, of course, on Paul "Sandy" Davis's creative singing, at parts extremely melodic, at parts theatrical and recitative. But the really distinctive feature of Gracious' debut album is the amazing amount of styles and influences that the band manages to blend together to a great effect: sinister Crimsonian guitar and piano riffing, Beatlesque vocal harmonies, classical and symphonic influences, barroom boogies, bluesy guitar and piano solos, jazzy drumming, weird recitative parts, and much much more. All these influences are graciously blended together on the album, and the result rarely feels forced or out of place.

It's hard to say which song is the highlight on this album: all 5 pieces are really good and equally enjoyable. Introduction is the most structured and possibly less eccentric song: it contains nice vocal melodies, a beautiful harpsichord bridge, a slightly dated but effective chorus, and a very powerful guitar solo about 2mins 40s into the song. Heaven kicks off slowly with bass, guitar, mellotron and piano gradually layered over a solemn organ carpet. The song then continues with a peaceful and mellow section with acoustic guitars and piano before the signing comes in for a fragment that somewhat reminds me of the melodies on 'Jesus Christ Superstar', before a symphonic instrumental finale bridges to Hell, the last piece on Side One. This is the darkest song on the album, it starts with menacing guitar effects followed by a series of dissonant and descending guitar and piano phrases. The gloomy atmosphere is only temporarily relieved by a short melodic piano and vocals interlude before the song develops into hellish madness: megaphone shouting, barroom piano and singing, Offenbach's Can-Can and a quirky, percussive finale. Side Two opens with the 5mins-long Fugue in D minor, an instrumental piece for acoustic guitars, bass and harpsichord which is an enjoyable homage to classical music. The 17mins of The Dream close the album: at first this may sound like a "everything but the kitchen sink" song, but repeated listening reveals all its beauty. It starts off quite aggressively with bass, drums and guitar before it suddenly relaxes into a reference to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata followed by the gentle singing "Good Night, Good Night", which opens the dream sequence. The 11mins acid dreaming sequence starts with a bass and guitar ostinato making base for the guitar and piano cyclically bursting out into exciting bluesy solos. Then it continues with theatrical declamations, strange guitar effects and even stranger singing alternated with very melodic pop/jazz tunes, a short section mimicking 'Hey Jude', other weird spoken/singed parts and another effective guitar solo. At about 13mis40sec the alarm clock rings: the dream is over and we are gently brought back by piano to the opening "Good Night, Good Night" melody, which now transforms into "Good Day, Good Day". Really an excellent album, truly progressive and highly recommended!

lukretio | 4/5 |


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