John Greenwood - Dark Blue

(CD 2024, 69:05, ProgRock. Com Essentials)

The tracks:
  1- A Little Piece Of Rosco Vidal(12:08)
  2- Too Late!(6:43)
  3- Too Late! Reprise, Introducing The Ocean(2:42)
  4- The Ocean(16:00)
  5- Requiem(3:54)
  6- Heartless(3:32)
  7- Inside(7:15)
  8- Packin' My Suitcase(2:06)
  9- The Kiss (Nick Magnus Orchestration)(1:27)
10- Afterglow(6:34)
11- A Proper Song(3:16)
12- Packin' My Suitcase (Retro mix)(2:11)
13- The Kiss (John Greenwood Orchestration)(1:17)

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"Following a life training as a plastic surgeon and practicing as a burn surgeon and director of the Adult Burn Centre of the Royal Adelaide Hospital retirement has finally allowed me to pursue some musical dreams. As lead guitarist of Unitopia I have formed part of the formidable writing quartet responsible for the Seven Chambers album."

Dark Blue from 2024 is John Greenwood his first solo album, as a result of chasing his musical dreams. He has invited a wide range of guest musicians, including keyboard player Nick Magnus (ex-Steve Hackett band), Steve Unruh (The Resistor, Samurai Of Prog and United Progressive Fraternity) on flute traverse and Craig Blundell (Frost and on tour with Steve Hackett and Steve Wilson) on drums. The foreword is by the highly acclaimed ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett : "It is a pleasure for me to write a foreword for this fascinating project. John Greenwood's album is a feast of lush and varied music covering a wide pallet of sounds and genres with thought-provoking lyrics. I recommend it to all curious and adventurous listeners."

Well, to be honest, I was pretty surprised to notice that my guitar hero Steve Hackett did a foreword on this first solo album of the Australian multi-instrumentalist John Greenwood, but after my first listening session I was less surprised, because several tracks could have been on Steve Hackett his early solo albums. Like Requiem (wonderful blend of classical guitar, ominous keyboards, flute like sounding keyboards and halfway fiery electric guitar), Inside (dreamy with classical guitar and male vocals and piano, halfway an acceleration with powerful swinging bass runs, a harder-edged guitar solo and Mellotron choirs, wow) and A Proper Song (male vocals and organ, howling guitar and funny vocals).
And John Greenwood is a 70s Genesis fan, due to his inspired cover version of Afterglow, blending the mighty Mellotron choir sound with emotional vocals and an extended electric guitar solo.

The huge variety on this album is remarkable
Two long symphonic rock compositions: A Little Piece of Rosco Vidal (lots of shifting moods, embellished with a pleasant variety in vocal contributions, Mellotron choirs, classical guitar and tender piano) and The Ocean (from dreamy with celestial female vocals and classical guitar to bombastic with howling electric guitar and Mellotron choirs, goose bumps).
AOR in Heartless : sumptuous atmosphere with a mid-tempo, rock guitar, powerful vocals and a distorted heavy guitar solo.
A blend of blues, country and ragtime in Packin' My Suitcase and Packin' My Suitcase (retro mix), both with cheerful gypsy violin, very tasteful.
And classically inspired tracks like the instrumentals The Kiss (Nick Magnus orchestration) and The Kiss (John Greenwood orchestration), both with beautiful orchestrations and classical guitar.

A very pleasant and varied first effort by John Greenwood, it sounds melodic and harmonic, tastefully arranged, and embellished with a lush instrumentation. But you have to be up to his eclectic musical approach, ranging from 24-carat symphonic rock to blues and AOR.

***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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