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The Far Meadow - Foreign Land CD (album) cover

FOREIGN LAND

The Far Meadow

 

Neo-Prog

3.99 | 132 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SilverLight59
5 stars Going to start by saying, "wow"! This album grabbed me at first listen. It's fresh and yet creates some real glimpses of deja vu in the best of ways. My prog roots started with the Yes album Close to the Edge, and while this collection of songs by The Far Meadow aren't arranged anything like CTTE, I caught the same sense of exhilaration in this music just like I did so many years ago with CTTE. My big love back then was the keys and still are today, so when this starts with a gentle synth wash to warm us up, and then on to big keys, I was hooked straight off. I think there is church organ in there for a bit - sure sounds like it. Think a guy named Rick (and probably a few others) did that way back when and made us all crazy. Yeah, brings back the memories! If you love keys and synths you won't be disappointed with this offering. But allow me to further persuade you...

The next thing to catch our attention are the vocals of Marguerita Alexandrou. Going to be honest here - at first impression I was taken back and a little unsure if I was going to enjoy the album as her vocals are indeed unique! While the first few verses came across to me a little shrill, as the first song progresses her vocals calm down and become more melodic, in a quite fascinating way. Her voice grows on you very quickly, albeit in the high range. As there are no shortage of male singers in prog that are up in the higher vocal range, it's certainly not a foreign concept to expect high pitch singing. In fact, looking for a frame reference as most of us are inclined to do, my thoughts pondered if her vocals weren't almost the feminine antitype of vocalists in the vein of Geddy Lee - a compliment from my perspective as I am pretty big Rush fan. That being said, it may be a vocal type you will love or hate, but as for me, after a few spins of the disc, I am in the love her camp. Indeed, I believe that her vocals are big part in creating and defining the individuality of their sound.

Another thing that I loved about CTTE was the guitar solos and big base, the soft and the loud. So, is this old love satisfied here? Yes, while Foreign Land is lyric-centric to feature their singer (and wisely so!) there is ample room made for all types of instrumental excursions that are enjoyable, of adequate length to satisfy, and executed brilliantly. The interplay back and forth between keys and guitars is well done, each getting their fair time to shine. While most of the guitar work is in the prog- rock vein, there is also some wonderful jazz flavored influence, especially in the title track that just blows me away me each time I hear it. The production of the album itself is clean and crisp, the instruments pop with clarity, and it is just a delight to listen to. By the way, not to forget the drumming, it is top caliber and rounds out the propulsion of this album.

As far as a track by track analysis, I will leave that to others that likely can do a far better job; however, I will say, in my opinion, there are no weak tracks. The opener is an 18 minute block buster full of big keyboard chops, and guitar responses, and they never look back from there. The three shorter tracks that follow - maybe not that short as two of them clock in at 8 minutes - each develop different themes and soundscapes that will keep you listening (no skip tracks here!) to the title track finale, which will surprise and delight specially if you like a little jazz influence in the mix.

While I have mentioned my CTTE correlations with Foreign Land, it's not as I said at the outset, so much about the two albums sounding like one another, as the impact they had on me. Really I don't think they sound much alike at all. While it is apparent that The Far Meadow have numerous musical influences that we all know and will likely recognize, they don't sound much like any of them, but have a quite individual sound - something that's not so easily accomplished these days! This has helped keep this disc in my personal heavy rotation for a few weeks now and I don't see it being bumped anytime soon.

And as a parting observation, I have to mention the album art - beautiful and powerful! It's what got me to investigate the album reviews, which got my interest aroused to take a listen, and I am sure glad I did. To me, the art used fits their music perfectly. I hope they use the same artist on their next effort. It's my impression that this album is moving The Far Meadow to get a fair amount of attention, and it is well deserved. I am eagerly anticipating their next offering already. Hopefully it won't be 3 years between like last time! But in the meanwhile, if you are looking for something fresh and invigorating to check out then this is the one.

So, I am giving this 4.5 stars (is any album really perfect?) + .5 stars for giving me that early CTTE sense of musical exhilaration, so make it 5 big stars!

SilverLight59 | 5/5 |

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