(All Album Reviews by Windhawk)
Based in Canada, multi-instrumentalist Cary Clouser may be known by some as a member of Jethro Tull tribute band Oracle; that got some press coverage when they won "The Niagara Music Award for Best Tribute Band 2008". Clouser has decided to try out a solo career as well these days, and Finger Paintings is his debut album.
With a background from a Tull tribute band, you might expect Clouser's solo output to be pretty similar to this fine British band too, especially as he in Oracle handles vocals and flutes (in addition to guitars and keyboards). But apart from one composition, "Don't Know", you won't find much material on this CD reminding strongly, or even remotely, the style of music Jethro Tull have explored over the years.
Indeed, the driving and dominating instrument in these tunes is the piano. It's been quite a while since I last encountered a prog rock album so heavily dominated by this fine instrument. Guitars, mostly dampened and often acoustic, add nuances and textures to the melodies; and well-planned symphonic textures are applied by keyboards in most tunes. The vocals are even more central in most tunes; clear and melodic they really add to the songs - except for the instrumentals of course.
As style goes, this comes across as a mix of mellow AOR and Kansas in my ears, with a few touches that reminds me more of Yes. My knowledge is somewhat limited to 70's rock though, so other (read: older) listeners may find other artists that have influenced this fine artist. No matter the influences, the end result is entertaining music with a certain pop sensibility to it.
For piano aficionados, the instrumental “Dark” in both of it's expressions should be quite intriguing; and for those who think the tune Precious in it's length of just over 9 minutes is a bit long; it has been divided into three separate tracks at the of the CD. For the curious and the ones who want to know a bit more about the artist, there's an long interview with Cary Clouser at the very end of this CD, lasting for a bit over 30 minutes.
This is an album that should appeal to people enjoying 70's tinged rock of the more mellow kind; and in particular those who enjoy symphonic tendencies with their rock. It's not an album that will never top the Billboard charts, but it is a fine release by a talented artist exploring a niche of music not too many others are active in these days.
My rating: 69/100