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Ken Baird - Ken Baird & Sue Fraser: Orion CD (album) cover


Ken Baird


Crossover Prog

3.39 | 9 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Orion' - Ken Baird & Sue Fraser (6/10)

Collaborating with friend and fellow singer Sue Fraser on this album, prog singer/songwriter Ken Baird's third album isn't much different than what I would have expected from this talented individual. Having been greatly impressed with his fourth album 'Martin Road' and his fifth 'Further Out' to a lesser extent, I did have higher expectations for this album. Taking a highly melodic approach to symphonic rock here, 'Orion' is one of those albums that is graced with moments of brilliance, but doesn't feel complete as an overall album. While certainly something of a disappointment when compared to Baird's stronger work however, 'Orion' is sure to tickle the fancy of anyone looking for a melodic and concise alternative to the generally more drawn out symphonic prog out there.

Although Ken Baird's more recent work has received greater attention and acclaim, the sound here is still very recognizable. A clever multi-instrumentalist as always, Baird crafts a very nice pastoral layer of sounds here, ranging from the typical keyboards one might find in progressive rock, to a solo with the recorder, and everything else a rock album might have in store. The focus in the music however is always on the songwriting and vocal work, here shared by Baird and Fraser. Baird's warm voice really shines here, even more so than on later albums of his creation. Fraser on the other hand is quite a skilled vocalist, but it does feel as if her voice is overused, and doesn't fit many of the sections she plays a role in. The songwriting is generally quite good, although Baird's style of writing always works best when he gets melancholic, as opposed to some of the brighter moments here.

Opening and closing with virtually the same track 'Waving Goodbye', it does feel as if 'Orion' was meant to have a tight sense of cohesion about it, but unfortunately, the end result is something that feels incomplete. While the music itself can be of a very high quality within the context of a song, 'Orion's biggest fault is the fact that it generally feels more like a collection of songs, despite all evident efforts made to make it more than that. A fine example is how the album's nine minute highlight 'Shadow Walls' simply cuts out without warning, which disrupts the enjoyment of each listen through of 'Orion'.

Far from being Ken Baird's best, but the album's two longer, more involving tracks are certainly a treat for any progger. Although the album can feel very unpolished and rough in sections, it does feel as if the great moments are worth treading through the unsuccessful segments.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |


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