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THIS

Valdez

Crossover Prog


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kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars Whichever way you look at it, Valdez are a super-group formed by some of the finest of the progressive scene. The singer/guitarist is none other than Simon Godfrey (Tinyfish, Shineback and solo artist) who emigrated to the States in 2014, bassist/singer Tom Hyatt was of course in the much-missed Echolyn, while keyboard player/singer Joe Cardillo is from Cold Blue Electric and drummer Scott Miller (Stone Jack Baller) completes the band. If that wasn't enough, Echolyn's Brett Kull produced it as well as providing additional guitar and vocals. Tom and Simon met by chance at a comedy club in Philly and got on so well that they decided to jam the following evening at an open mic night. The duo were an instant hit with the crowd and as they left the stage, they agreed to form a band that would go on to become Valdez.

It is almost as if Tinyfish have joined forces with Echolyn, and in many ways I guess they have. For many of us following the scene in the Nineties, Echolyn was one of the most important prog bands to come out of America, with 'As The World' making a huge impact on everyone. Simon first made his presence felt with his brother in Freefall, but it was some years later that Tinyfish came to everyone's attention, with two incredibly well-received albums, and now here we have Simon and Tom working together in this new entity. This may also be the first time that Tom is back working with Brett in more than twenty years, given that Tom didn't rejoin Echolyn when they reformed in 2000.

So, enough history, what about the album? Well, it's a masterpiece of course. The worry when well-known musicians get together is that they can rest on their laurels and rely on their reputations to get them through, but here the guys have left their egos at the door and instead have concentrated on as wonderful a piece of crossover poptastic progressive rock as one could ever wish to hear. To say that this is a joy to listen to is to understate it immensely, and Simon in particular is a revelation. I don't think I've quite heard everything he has released, I've certainly heard most of it and based on that I can say that it is easily the best thing he has ever been involved with. It oozes class, has hooks aplenty, loads of space and room to breathe, and is just awesome.

I refuse to pick a favourite, as whatever song I am listening to is the best, whether it is the melodramatic or bouncy and vibrant, there seems to be nothing that these guys can't excel at. It really is an album that is packed full of songs, no over the top soloing or unnecessary note density here, it is all about what is best for the music as a collective whole. And I love it (in case you hadn't guessed). Truly essential.

Report this review (#1724735)
Posted Sunday, May 21, 2017 | Review Permalink
chopper
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The UK's loss is the USA's gain it would seem. Tinyfish, Shineback and PA forum man Simon Godfrey has left our shores for the US and found some fellow prog luminaries to play with, including Tom Hyatt of Echolyn, in his new band Valdez. This is their first release and very good it is too.

This is not the prog of Tinyfish or the electronica of Shineback, this album is about the song. Mainly based around the keyboards of Joe Cardillo, you won't find too many instrumental passages in 13/8 here but you will find a collection of high quality songs.

The stand outs for me are the jaunty piano riff of 'Thirteen', the poignant 'Sally Won't Remember' (previously featured on Simon's 'Motherland' album), a wonderful bass and piano section near the end of 'Spite House', a version of Tinyfish's 'Driving All Night' and the chorus of 'Colorado' but the whole album is very easy to like.

If you're looking for technical prog rock with long instrumental passages in weird time signatures then you need to look elsewhere. If you're looking for a collection of melodic, superbly played songs then this is for you. Four stars Mr. Godfrey and thanks.

Report this review (#1825105)
Posted Monday, November 20, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars If there is one word that perfectly and terribly applies to this album, it would be "contentious". Its negative connotation applies to all the prog purists who hold staunch feelings that prog must contain odd time signatures, dissonance, and long winding passages of technical noodliness -- none of which will be found on this album. On the other hand, contention is more a sign of progress than anything else and in this era of increasing contrivition, doing something unexpected is always a good thing.

The members of Valdez have all proven their chops in previous prog outfits and while they are able to play circles around many other musicians, they choose to show their prowess in their restraint. What you will find on this album are carefully crafted melodies delivered in earnest over lush musical arrangements, performed with just the right amount of verve to keep it flowing. There is lots of space to breathe, evocative harmony, and poetry galore, devoid of the overt pompous bombast that turns beauty to gaud.

This is an excellent crossover album for any lover of meticulously crafted prog-pop tinged music. Solid 4-stars.

Report this review (#1932411)
Posted Friday, May 18, 2018 | Review Permalink

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