So far the French progressive rock band Skeem recorded only one eponymous album (2001), which contained music that could be described best as a mixture of neo-prog and AOR. The man behind this band is multi-instrumentalist Serge Barbaro (lead and backing vocals, guitars, keyboards). Towards the end of 2008 he apparently found new inspiration, so he decided to go back to the studio to record a new Skeem album. However, at the time he didn't know that it would take him almost five years to complete the recordings for the successor of their strong debut. For this second album Barbaro recruited several musicians including Joe Massot (drums), Jonathan Lattore (bass), Berny Barbaro (keyboards, arrangements, sound), Pierre Teodori (acoustic guitars, violins, fretless bass), Serge Bianne (bass) and Jessica Passarin, Oreema, John Cobalt and Framy (all backing vocals).
Finally in 2013 ...Just Suggesting could be welcomed. Of course Barbaro wrote and recorded a lot of new material and therefore he needed two discs to record all of the new songs. I guess he found it difficult to select the tracks for a single disc. After listening to both CDs it was obvious to me that one single album would have been sufficient as some of the fifteen tracks contain weak parts. But then again I may say that I never get enough of listening to fabulous prog rock tunes since ...Just Suggesting also contains a lot of music that I enjoyed throughout. However, I would like to advice you not to play both CDs in succession otherwise you'll hear similar music for more than hundred minutes. I think that people who enjoy eating spinach or French fries won't have it every day for dinner, will they?
At the same time I must admit that I was immediately attracted to the music of Mr. Barbaro. The first tracks were really great and made my progressive rock heart beat faster. Especially the strong up-tempo tunes provided me a lot of pleasure. The strong instrumental parts with many great solos performed on the electric guitars and synthesizers really sound great. The splendid rhythm parts with a lot of fine grooves and the superb vocal performances all sound professional. I couldn't help tapping along with my foot. I guess this says enough about the way I felt about the music delivered by Skeem that mainly made me think of bands like Saga, Jadis, Pendragon and Clepsydra. These are all bands I enjoy as well. Apart from the great compositions on this album the production has been done splendidly which applies to both discs.
After a hiatus of twelve years, it's good to see that Skeem returned to the prog scene. I guess the years it took to come up with this second album were certainly well-spent. I love ...Just Suggesting a lot although it took a long time to listen both discs several times! Highly recommended to people who are well-disposed towards the aforementioned bands and many other neo-prog bands!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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