In 2010, I heard the wonderful debut album of the Dutch-rooted American and multi-instrumentalist Anton Roolaart (keyboards, guitars, vocals etc) for the first time. An album that had already been released in 2007. On Dreamer (see review), I heard many influences of progressive rock music, but especially bands like The Flower Kings, Steve Hackett, Yes and sometimes Genesis. The Beatles also came to my mind. The music Roolaart recorded on Dreamer, was pretty amazing for me and I highly recommended it to anyone who likes neo-progressive rock in particular. At that time Anton was already working on his next release. I hoped it would be as good as his fantastic debut. Now, a couple of years later, the wait is finally over and hes here with his second release to welcome you to his wonderful musical world once again .
Well, Anton certainly didn't disappoint me with the music he revealed on The Plight Of Lady Oona. The almost forty five minutes of music are worth listening to and a delight to hear for any lover of progressive rock music. Right from the start, with the mellow track Gravity, he takes you on a very pleasant musical journey. The keyboards sound like a real orchestra and the fantastic synthesizer solos give you a very happy feeling, a feeling of joy. The guitar parts are excellent and it is as if Pink Floyd's David Gilmour has entered the studio!
The fine music continues on the next piece. The Stars Fall Down again, is a rather laidback track, on which the piano and guitar are the main instruments. The Mellotron really gives this tune a fine progressive rock sound. The centre piece of the album is the title track. With almost fourteen minutes on the clock it's also the longest one to enjoy. It starts with the sound of a gong and very soon it is as if another guitar maestro, called Steve Howe, has entered the studio as well. Another famous progressive rock legend arrives after a couple of minutes; the warm, crystal clear voice of Renaissance's Annie Haslam can be enjoyed whole-heartedly. After that, it is mainly Yes-time. Traces of their album Going For The One (1977) can be heard several times, but I didn't care at all, because it just sounds superb! In a way, this epic piece ends like it started; with the sound of an acoustic guitar, as if it was played by Mr. Howe himself. The follow up song, Standing In The Rain, again is a mellow track, on which the guitar and piano are the main instruments. The Mellotron comes to the surface again several times. Next is Memoires, and here it seems as if another well-known guitar hero has entered the studio. This time the playing of Steve Hackett on his acoustic guitar comes to mind, however, this only instrumental piece has more to offer than being a tune that goes into the direction of this former Genesis guitar player only. Some nice electric guitar and keyboard parts are included in the song. The closing composition has the title The Revealing Light. It starts very atmospheric, and you get the impression youre wandering 'through a forest. After a while this track, which starts as a rock ballad, moves into the direction of Yes and Pink Floyd music-wise. The guitar and Mellotron parts just sound awesome! This final track really ends this great album in style and leaves you behind feeling satisfied.
Besides the six strong compositions on The Plight Of Lady Oona, I have to mention the fantastic artwork. This was made by Anton himself in a very wonderful way. The fairytale-like looking digital artwork fits the music perfectly so bravo! not only for the fine music, but for the images that come with the album as well!
As I already stated at the start of this review, Anton Roolaart didn't let me down with the music he wrote for his second solo release! Just like on Dreamer, he and his guest musicians managed to keep me entertained the whole album through. I only hope the progressive rock community doesn't have to wait for another seven years to welcome his third solo effort. Furthermore, I certainly wish he would be coming to his motherland for some concerts, because I really want to hear his awesome music live, on a Dutch stage!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Esther Ladiges)
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