Enlightened Horizon

Jack Jeffery

Independent release, 2014

http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/JackJeffery

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/27/2014

You don't really hear much about the Alan Parsons Project these days, do you? Maybe at the dentist, when "Eye In The Sky" pipes in over the Muzak, or "Sirius" appears in a slow-motion sports homage on TV or in the movies, but that's pretty much it. That is, unless you're Jack Jeffery, who counts Parsons as a musical influence and whose creativity and sound can be heard on Jeffery's sophomore disc Enlightened Horizon.

The disc looks and sounds a little like progressive rock but is accessible and not full of itself. The jittery keyboards of APP's "Lucifer" and "Mammagamma" are evident in the opening cuts "Melancholy Minstrel" and the instrumental "Global Rise, Ancient Truth," which sounds like it should be a Yes song (but at six minutes, it’s about 14 minutes too short to qualify).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"The Road That Never Ends" is a pretty good early Floyd and sober Moody Blues pastiche, with low-pitched strings and two acoustic guitar figures playing off each other while a banjo provides a sprightly counterpoint to Jeffrey's sound about the journey being the point of life, not the destination. Jeffrey plays all the instruments and provides all the vocals, which is quite astonishing given the creativity and dense, layered songwriting.

The Parsons influence pops up again in another instrumental piece ("Approaching The Starlight") and the burbling, slightly goofy '80s computer jam "Continuum," which gradually adds on layers of keyboards, choir voices from varying ethnicities before fading out in a haze of AM radio station switching. It could be the soundtrack to an old-school video game or an early Daft Punk song sans the techno beat, but it's different and will make you smile.

An annoying overamped cover of "Amazing Grace" appears toward the end of the disc but only lasts about a minute, giving way to the robotic rocker and U2 Achtung Baby-inspired "Consequence Of Love." Then it's back to Parsons Take 5 on "Trans-Celestial Express" before the lovely eight-minute save-the-environment saga "Never Go Back To The Mountain" and the slow, overlong "Our Own Past," which could have come straight off a Moody Blues album in 1969, complete with a Mellotron solo (ably recreated on a Roland synthesizer).

As with many new artists, Jeffery wears his influences quite loudly, to the point that it's easier to pick which artist the song sounds like than to hear the music as its own entity. That's unfair to Jeffery, who is clearly talented, has a way with melody and can create dynamics and layered songs as well as any other neo-prog artist you'd care to name. The best moments of Enlightened Horizon are quite good even if the sum of the parts is less than stellar, but those moments point the way forward to something great. Keep your eye on this and, if you happen to pick it up, shelve it next to I Robot in your CD tower. This disc is available on Soundcloud, CD Baby, and iTunes as well.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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