Cymbalick Music [Release date 5.10.18]
As you might guess from the title, this is the third solo album from Tim Morse, a keyboard /guitarist from California.
My initial reaction on hearing the opening refrains of ‘Wake Up’, was ‘Yes’. And not just in the keyboards, but also in the mildly Jon Anderson-infused vocals and rumbling Chris Squire-esque bass. So of little surprise, therefore, to find that Morse is the keyboard player in Californian Yes tribute band Parallels, as well the author of two prog-related books – Yesstories and Classic Rock Stories.
His 2005 debut Transformation was well received with plaudits from the likes of Peter Banks, Patrick Moraz and Bill Bruford, and his second Faithscience (2012) featured a cameo from David Ragsdale of Kansas.
But III is more than just a prog fest. It’s a highly melodic, at times almost AOR offering. With seven songs across the 45 minute running times, the shortest two – the piano based ‘The Marquis’ and middle of the road ‘My Ally’ both clock in around the 4 minute mark and would slot comfortably into a best of Billy Joel (in his more laid back moments) set.
Elsewhere, the 11 minute centrepiece ‘Labyrinth’ begins ethereally, before fading to a proggy schizoid mid-section, and easing back to a melodic closure. ‘The Path’ adds a harder rocking edge to the mix, with some neat closing guitar work, and ‘The Mary Celeste’ and the closing ‘Circle/Talisman’ are easy on the ear pairing – very much in a Riversea style – that feature some particularly impressive playing and melodies.
A cultured and accessible release (your partner is unlikely to ask you to ‘turn it down’ or ‘turn it off’, but equally they probably won’t ask who it is either). But as for finding a wider audience, I actually thought some of the songs might have been stronger delivered with fewer proggy elements. ***1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
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