Farpoint - Grace

Year of Release: 2003
Label: independent
Catalog Number: SCM 1003
Format: CD
Total Time: 62:18:00

Are Farpoint progressive rock? Arguably no. When I think of progressive rock, an admittedly very broad and multi-faceted genre, the style of music that Farpoint play doesn't fit in that categorization. Mainly this is because Farpoint have a very rootsy sound where the comparisons that we can make aren't to Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, ELP, aren't to "neo-prog," RIO or Zuehl, or any other subgenre of progressive rock, but rather to the likes of Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, and modern country and western all swirled together. Farpoint's outlook is positive and based on their faith in God/Jesus? the usual song subjects of being lost until finding Him, finding strength in Him, etc. can be found here in nearly every piece. There is a certain sound that many bands of this style have -- well, those from the US, at least -- mixing Americana and faith and an upbeatness to the music, an optimistic cheerfulness (even if the lyrics are dark) that can be annoying and cloying to those who aren't of a like mind. Well, Farpoint do have a bit of that cheerfulness in their music, but it isn't cloying.

Now, I said that Farpoint didn't sound like progressive rock or any one progressive rock band, and that is true. However, there were a few seconds where I thought of Marillion in the intro to "Ghost," though it reminded me of present day Marillion, not classic, though I lack an exact reference. The intro to "Into The Light," the brief piece that ends the album, sounds as if it's going to be a flute led, acoustic instrumental version of the Moody Blues' "Your Wildest Dreams" and ends like it is going to break into The Carpenters' "For All We Know" (this mainly due to a few "ahh-ahhs" that appear briefly). It doesn't do either, though there is something similar about the cadence and rhythm of the vocals during the main section, here delivered in a choir of voices. The reason for this similarity to the bands mentioned earlier is, at least in part, the predominance of acoustic textures (though the electric guitar leads that open "H2Origins" belie that), the mid-tempo arrangements, the warm vocals, etc.

Ironically, having said that all that, the album opens with the initially latter-day Pink Floyd-esque "Into The Night," a piece that begins atmospheric and spacey, but moves into a mid-tempo rocker that with the treated vocals reminds me of Rick Ray. It's a punchy way to begin an album, but there is just something missing, some element of oomph that would put it over the top. That very thing that is missing in "Into The Night," is present on the rest of the album, containing the warmth and depth of sound that the first track seems to lack. Much of this warmth is generated by the two lead vocalists, Clark Boone and Dana Oxendine, whose voices intertwine and contrast nicely. Boone has deep voice that at times reminds me of Greg Lake, of the late Stuart Adamson, and mostly of Todd Joos, the vocalist with Project 814 (with the briefest of hints of Darius Rucker). Oxendine often sounds like a smoother voiced Stevie Nicks? for those familiar with Fleetwood Mac, just think of Nicks' performance on "Gold Dust Woman" and in fact, "Falling Down" reminded me a bit of "Leather And Lace" at first (Nicks' duet with Don Henley). What I like is how Boone's and Oxendine's voices intertwine on some of the pieces, work in contrast on others.

Though I wouldn't really call Farpoint progressive rock, that doesn't mean there's nothing of interest for the progressive rock fan. There are some very fine guitar leads here played by Mike Avins, accompanied by Kevin Jarvis on acoustic, electric and classical guitars and Frank Tyson on bass, guitar, and guitar synth. Rounding out the band's line up is Jonathan Rodriguez on drums, percussion and vocals. Oxendine and Jarvis also play keyboards, and Oxendine flute, while Tyson and Jarvis also contribute backing vocals.

Grace is an apt title for this album, because the songs to have a certain grace to them. This is certainly true of the acoustic intro to "Dawn" being guitar, flute, and occasional synth washes. As vocals are added, light percussion and bass are added. The closing keyboard passage quotes an excerpt of Bach's "Cantata 140").

Though progressive rock it may not be, it is a very well done, pleasant sounding mainstream-like release that is a cut above what passes as mainstream these days.

Into The Night (5:56) / Dawn (6:24) / Ghost (6:39) / H2Origins (7:44) / Yesterday (5:44) / Grace (7:00) / Sunset (5:34) / Nevermore (4:51) / Falling Down (4:38) / Over Again (5:45) / Into The Light (4:03)

Mike Alvins - lead and rhythm electric guitar
Clark Boone - lead and backing vocals, 12-string guitar
Kevin Jarvis - acoustic, electric, and classical guitars, keyboards, mandolin, bass, and vocals
Dana Oxendine - lead and backing vocals, flute, keyboards
Johnathan Rodriguez - drums and percussion, vocals
Frank Tyson - bass guitar, electric guitar, guitar synth, and vocals

Just Like You (2-song ep) (2000)
First Light (2002)
Grace (2003)
From Dreaming To Dreaming (2004)
Cold Star Quiet Star (2008)
Kindred (2011)
Water Of Life - Live At The Sumter Opera House (2012)
Paint The Dark (2014)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: July 27th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.farpointband.com
Hits: 1034
Language: english


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