Poe: More Tales Of Mystery And Imagination

Eric Woolfson

LimeLight Records, 2003


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Thomas Wolfe said you can never go home again. Apparently no one told this to Eric Woolfson. Good thing, too.

Woolfson, half the central core of the Alan Parsons Project, has been doing a lot of different things since the Project's breakup in 1987. He's done some musicals in Germany and Korea (including the critically noted Gambler), written some songs, and spent a lot of time working with more theatrical music -- unlike his counterpart, Parsons, who has stayed in rock and whose new album is reportedly a venture into electronica. However, it seems he's always wanted to revisit the first subject he ever handled as a musician -- the work of Edgar Allan Poe, the subject of the Project's 1976 debut. Finally, Woolfson, working with a new band and vocalist Steve Balsamo, has released my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Poe.

First things first. This is not a Project album -- this isn't even a progressive rock album. There are elements that are similar, but Woolfson has spent a decade or more in musical theater, and it shows. Poe is closer in spirit to Chess or the work of Tim Rice. That's actually a good thing; longtime Project fans know that Woolfson's commercial-sounding vocals (on songs like "Time") helped destroy the Project's progressive rock sound through record label pressure. Free of that preconception, Poe turns out to be a solid, enjoyable, and well-performed work with very few miscues.

The musicianship is excellent; sometime Project bassist Laurence Cottle joins a host of new names to put together a stellar performance. Special kudos have to go to guitarist John Parricelli, who handles multiple styles with ease and aplomb. Production and engineering show that Woolfson must have taken notes during all those years of collaboration; the sound is crisp and clear, no simple task on harmony-heavy tracks like "Goodbye To All That" and "The Murders In The Rue Morgue."

So it seems Poe rests on the songwriting -- and that's almost perfect. I confess to not having much of a liking for "Freedom Train," but once that's out of the way, Poe is astonishing. Tracks like "Tiny Star" and "Wings Of Eagles" are brilliant, "The Pit And The Pendulum" is appropriately horrible, "Somewhere In The Audience" is heartbreaking -- and the closing track, "Immortal," may be the greatest thing Eric Woolfson has ever written. Steve Balsamo's soaring celebration of Poe's literary immortality gave me chills. Simply beautiful.

Eric Woolfson has come full circle, and gained a good deal of wisdom and talent along the way. Take the time to dig up a little Poe -- you'll find it to be a poetically good listen.

[Editor's Note: Poe can be ordered here.]

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2003 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of LimeLight Records, and is used for informational purposes only.