Moonrise - Stopover-Life

(CD 2012, 58:20, Lynx Music LM 77 CD-DG)

The tracks:
  1- Stopover-Life(4:32)
  2- Surrender To Win(6:57)
  3- Start Up Song(4:06)
  4- Let It Flow(6:17)
  5- Flying In Empty Lands(7:02)
  6- Blind Faces(5:49)
  7- Guardian Angel(6:51)
  8- Unravel Your Soul(7:37)
  9- Mr Strange(9:14)

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One year after his great debut album The Lights Of A Distant Bay, the Polish musician Kamil Konieczniak (keyboards, guitars, bass, loops) surprised me again with a fine album called Soul's Inner Pendulum (2009, see review), both released under the moniker of Moonrise. Especially for people who like neo-progressive rock this album feels like a warm bath. Beside Konieczniak the strong and high-levelled compositions on this second album were recorded by the fabulous Millenium singer Łukasz Gall, saxophonist Dariusz Rybka, guitarist Marcin Kruczek and drummer Grzegorz Jakiela.

Recently Moonrise released a third album called Stopover-Life. Compared to the latest effort some line-up changes have occurred. The most important one is Łukasz Gall who no longer lends his great voice to the music of Moonrise. However, he still wrote all the lyrics for the new album. Furthermore drummer Jakiela has been replaced by Grzegorg Bauer. This time Marcin Jajkiewicz took care of the vocal department; his voice greatly differs from Gall's. He strongly reminded me of Edward Reekers, the lead vocalist of the Dutch band Kayak, but also Ray Wilson crossed my mind, the former singer of Genesis and Stiltskin.

Of course, the question is whether this important change has had any effect on the overall sound of the album. Well, the answer is: not at all! This new voice just fits like a glove in these nine great compositions that work perfectly for the voices of Łukasz Gall and Marcin Jajkiewicz. Just like on the previous albums Konieczniak succeeded again in creating a singer-friendly atmosphere. That also applies to the musicians who play saxophone, guitar and synthesizer solos. It seems like an easy job for them to play terrific solos. Just listen to Kruczek's fabulous guitar solos in Surrender To Win, Flying In Empty Lands, Mr Strange, Unravel Your Soul and Let It Flow, or Konieczniak's amazing synthesizer solos in the first three aforementioned titles, or Rybka's perfect contributions on saxophone in the title track and Start Up Song.

Listening to these great solos I realized that Stopover-Life is just as excellent as the previous two albums. I even dare to say that the level of the compositions on this album is higher than on its predecessors. For people who already own the other two Moonrise albums or those who are addicted to neo-progressive rock or love the guitar playing of people like Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings, Transatlantic) and David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) Stopover-Life is an obligatory purchase.

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

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