40 is the fourth solo release from Krzysztof Lepiarczyk, founding member and keyboard player with Polish neo prog band Loonypark and the second release of 2021 under his own name. Once again he has teamed up with Jerzy Antzac (Albion) on guitar, band mate Grzegorz Fieber on drums and Joanna Pawlikowska providing vocals.
I'm not sure what, or if there is a specific concept behind this release, it partly has the flavour of one of those collections that get put out of decent tunes which just haven't found a home yet. Which is no bad thing. Just as I thought I was getting the measure of the whole Lynx Music stable brand of power ballad turning into epic instrumental kind of patter, it's good to see that there are more arrows in the quiver. True the album starts with a typical hauntingly delivered triptych of songs with Secret Land in particular delivering a stupendous epic instrumental climax. Yet I am left conflicted - great musicianship, terrific vocals, but a tendency to cycle through epic choruses that sound just too leaden for my taste. I'm sure someone more technically proficient than myself can explain it, but the effect is too often like wading through treacle which is fine in its place - it just seems to happen too much in the early part.
Fortunately the second half is more redemptive. The upbeat Feel The Flow with its funky bass provides a great kickstart. Suddenly there is more going on, from atmopsheric guitar and keyboards and even the drums get in on the act and have a bit of fun. Jazz Monday is more uplifting again featuring jungle drums and some nice nods to 80s jazz infusions. Well Ok, yes, it does get a bit Sade or Working Week but I'm not knocking it for that, and you see what I mean by a few new tricks coming out. Living Alone is back to the power rock mode, but this time far more joyous and without the lead boots on it's a riotous, triumphant celebration of freedom which could even get a grouch like me down to the front. Babylon rounds off this relatively short collection nicely, mixing electronica with some great jazz-blues guitar work and nicely intricate work from the rhythm section.
This is an album that builds nicely and especially in the second half bursts into life with some great tracks.
***+ Andrew Cottrell
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