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Steve Unruh - The Great Divide CD (album) cover


Steve Unruh

Prog Folk

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5 stars teve has released quite a number of quality releases over the years; 8 solo albums and 3 albums with his band Resistor. Of all these records, "the Great Divide' is the one I like best.

Steve Unruh solo albums are solo albums in the thru sense of the word: written, played and produced by Steve Unruh alone. Luckily this doesn't result in flat overproduced records. All his albums sound fresh and energetic like they are being played by a band live in the studio. The great Divide is no exception.

So what about the music? Steve plays acoustic progressive folk music. Over the years you'll find a steady progress n his albums. They become more mature, varied and, in my opinion, simply better.

The great divide starts off with a song with the strange name 'Attack, Retreat, Then Attack Again Of The AcoustiChromatic Pixies'. The music is also unusual; It's a strange mix between the Dixie dregs and Univers Zero. The songs starts off with fast paced country loops on acoustic guitar, but somewhere half way the song changes into a more Rio/Avant song. Towards the end the two styles are combined together and they sound surprisingly well together. It's a great and very original start of the album.

Next is the 36 minute epic 'The great divide'', also the only vocal track on the album. Musically you could say it is a typical prog epic. It's composed of many different parts, with a recurring theme at the end. My favourite part is "something in heaven bleeds'. I can also imagine this piece working very well in a heavy Resistor version! The lyrical content is interesting; it deals with the relationship between man and god. Uh oh ... a prog epic with religious content: comparisons with Neal Morse are quickly made. But thankfully the lyrics here never become preachy in any way. In fact the lyrics offer as much to the atheist as to the believer.

Next piece is the quiet folky 'The River's Bend'. Maybe you could call this the least interesting piece on the album. I prefer to call it a welcome point of rest on the album. A beautiful melancholic tune. A perfect moment to refill the wine glass ( or whiskey glass in my case) and relax.

On the next song 'Seven Journeys East' the energy levels are switched up again. A great diverse instrumental folk tune where flute, violin and acoustic guitar constantly fight for the lead but none of them seem to win. A great interplay between the various instruments! Hard to believe that this is just one guy in the studio.

I think 'The great Divide' is one of these great undiscovered gems in progressive rock. An absolutely essential release for lover of progressive folk music.

Report this review (#272332)
Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Great Divide is an acoustic, old English and bluegrass-influenced version of Prog Folk not unlike The Strawbs, Gryphon or the more acoustically-oriented solo albums of Ian Anderson, Cat Stevens, or Peter Shelley with a little pinch each of Peter Hammill and Frank Zappa thrown in there for good measure. Entertaining, mostly unpredictable, and, thankfully, mostly instrumental. (I cringe to think of hearing this music delivered by electric instruments. Devin Townsend!) The play of a full complement of rock band instrumentation is nice. Though I'm not necessarily a fan of this type of music, I appreciate it's integrity both compositionally and skill-wise.
Report this review (#1345780)
Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2015 | Review Permalink

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