I don’t like to give out low ratings. You’ve probably noticed that I don’t release many such reviews; but this year I’ve decided that I want to start reviewing more albums that I don’t really like, as you many still enjoy these bands, even if I do not. Believe me, with the amount of albums I get, I only review a small fraction of them. So, I’m going to offer my thoughts on this self-titled debut from Greyfeather, but please check it out yourself, too.
Greyfeather is a new collaboration between seasoned musicians. Members include Brian Coralian of IZZ on drums and percussion; Kevin Jarvis of Farpoint on acoustic guitars and vocals; Steve Katsikas of Little Atlas on keys and vocals; Dennis Mullin of Iluvatar on electric guitars; and Wade Summerlin of Cobweb Strange on bass and vocals. These guys have lots of experience. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure the meeting of these minds has been successful.
Yes, there is much to love about this debut album, but there is also much to dislike. The band plays a Floydian style of prog rock, emphasizing the slower and more emotional aspects of that style. The album does have this very interested tone to it, almost like it’s a spaghetti western or something. This “trotting” groove is rather common throughout the album, starting with the very first track. The music is quite whimsical and homey, and there are some great accents in terms of synth tone and interesting song structure. I also really appreciate Dennis’ guitars, as his licks and solos are strong and emotional.
These positives can be found mostly in the two-part title track, which I honestly like quite well. “Greyfeather, Part 1 and 2” is a great song with some very definite tones that are pretty unique among prog bands. The first part rather sounds like it’s high noon in the wild west, or something like that. I also really like “Life Sonnet #4”. It is honestly a great song that reminds me of 90’s acoustic ballads. Lastly, “Half a World Away” is a great final track on the album, full of honest and sincere vocals.
The negatives here, though, I just can’t ignore. First off, the vocals leave something to be desired. I know that’s a rather subjective statement, but I really don’t find the vocals from any of the singers very enjoyable. That’s just me, though. I do appreciate the honesty in their tones, however.
Second, the album overall feels very unexciting, like it knows that most people would find the music dull, so it just doesn’t want to try. I myself normally find the Floydian style of music elevating and soothing. This album does achieve that in some respects, but sometimes the music plods along at a pace that is more excruciating than peaceful. The album simply needs more atmosphere and gusto, and I feel like the album is unsure of itself, especially the middle portion.
Lastly, the biggest issue here is composition. The songs just aren’t that great, outside of an interesting couple of tracks. One of the more annoying things about the album is that you’ll hear a lot of back-and-forth dynamics between the guitars and keys. However, these dynamics are very repetitive most of the time, rather than complementary. The keys will lay down a melody, and then the guitar will follow it exactly: Now, picture that happening over and over in every song. It really does end up feeling cheap and amateur.
Additionally, songs like “The Fire” and “Bloodstripe” feel like you are listening to a cover band; though other songs, like the two-part title track, prove that you are listening to amazing musicians. I’m not sure why there is this inconsistency. “Bloodstripe” especially feels like the band members are each playing parts to entirely different songs, and it stumbles along in an uninteresting and an embarrassingly “off” manner.
I see the potential in Greyfeather; I really do. These guys are obviously good musicians, but this album just seems like a set up for a better sophomore album. The music has some high points, but just too many low and dull points for me to appreciate it fully. I do like the style they are using, though; and I will definitely give the follow-up a chance.
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