I And Thou - Speak

(CD 2012, 60:38, Private Release)

The tracks:
  1- Speak(12:19)
  2- And I Awaken(11:31)
  3- Hide And Seek(16:30)
  4- The Face Behind the Eyes(13:35)
  5- Go Or Go Ahead(6:43)

I And Thou Website       

Speak is the second album of the American musician Jason Hart under the moniker of I And Thou. He uses this name as a creative vehicle for his compositions. I think few people know that he already recorded his debut album in 2005. Jason Hart also worked with Rufus Wainwright and currently he's one of the two keyboardists in the line-up of Renaissance.

On Speak Jason Hart not only shows that he's a very talented keyboardist, but he plays other instruments like the guitar, glockenspiel and trumpet as well. Alongside being a gifted keyboard player, Hart is an amazing singer and a great composer, which he shows on the six compositions on Speak. While listening to these pieces I had to conclude that he has been strongly inspired by Tony Banks (Genesis). The eponymous opening track is a very good example of his admiration for this musician. I almost got the idea that I was listening to a piece taken from A Trick Of The Tail (1975) or Wind & Wuthering (1976). The music of Genesis is all over the place and especially the keyboard and guitar parts strongly tend towards these progressive rock pioneers. However, the music of his current band Renaissance is also influential on Speak

It won't be surprising that a band as IZZ shines through on some of the tracks either, since three musicians of that band accompanied Jason on several tracks, namely John Gargano (bass), Paul Bremner (guitars) and Laura Meade (backing vocals). You could say that the vocal performances of Keren Ann on Hide And Seek and Steve Hogarth on Go Or Go Ahead elevated the album to a higher level. Their contributions brought more variety to the album. Speak ends with Go Or Go Ahead, a cover of a Rufus Wainwright song and a bonus track to the album. However, while listening to this song I didn't get the idea of a cover because Jason Hart succeeded in making it sound like one of his own compositions.

Speak is an album on which you hear the dreamy and romantic side of keyboard player Jason Hart, who made an album in a wonderful relaxing flow. He just touched me on an emotional level by coming up with strong prog rock songs proving that bombastic sounds aren't necessarily needed to impress the listener. So I would like to give a big compliment to Hart and his fellow-musicians who recorded one of the few musical surprises of 2012.

**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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