Style: Laid back singer/songwriter folk rock with with progressive and pop elements
Rating: 2¾ / 5
Summary: An admirable debut album from a veteran musician
You have to admire one-man outfits. These artists have far more courage than most of us – they write the songs, play the instruments, sing their own lyrics, recruit assistance where needed, mix and engineer everything, compile their cover art, and sometimes even burn the CDs themselves. Today’s technology allows artistic entrepreneurs like singer/songwriters Bruce Main to bring their music to the public – but for all the tools in the world, these projects are truly a labor of love and you have to admire their talent and – even more – their tenacity and courage.
Main was a founding member of prog band Medusa in the 1970's. He became guitarist and songwriter for The Eddies, and then for regionally known prog-metal band Mania. His professional career includes chief engineer with an ownership position in commercial recording studios, and he’s worked on sound systems for an interesting variety of projects. And his comfort in the world of music and sound engineering is evident in Tracks, his debut solo album.
The best moments on this CD are the instrumental sections, particularly on the 17-minute epic “Night” which features a rich mix of instruments and a tantric ebb and flow of soft and harder-edged sounds, straight-ahead rock and new-agey samples, acoustic and electric. It is in that track that you’ll hear the progressive elements, while the rest of the songs are more linear rock with a folksy touch. Aside from the occasional interesting new-age touches in the percussion and one of those love-em-or-hate-em washerboards on “Home”, the instrumentation is essentially the standard rock set with some nice Hammond sounds and ambient keyboards providing backdrops to the lead, acoustic and bass guitars.
The lead guitar work is rather nice, sometimes played in the form of standard lead solos, sometimes elegant extended pieces that are held way back in the mix, as an accompaniment to the sometimes dark, deep and deliberate bass and percussion section. Main’s singing may take a while to settle on you. It is a mid-range limited-range mellow delivery that sounds somewhat tentative in places. The liner notes do not include lyrics, but the prose sound straightforward and positive and perhaps a bit esoteric.
Let’s face it – solo artists deserve plaudits for their hard work, dedication, and for the courage it takes to subject their deeply personal projects to public scrutiny. They deserve all the support they can get.