Root - Resolution

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Fireside Recording
Catalog Number: FS4203
Format: CD
Total Time: 93:26:00

Released in 2003, Resolution is the fourth CD from Root and is a two disk set. Root is David Kendall - on vocals, drums, guitar, keys, etc. But this one man band creates a sound that has depth and contrasts - and harmonized vocals! - that you sometimes forget it's just one man.

But, let's get the obvious out of the way right away - you will find that as a vocalist Kendall sounds uncannily like Steve Hogarth - in tone and in phrasing. And just to sew that up in a few sentences, if you were to take the mood and tenor of This Strange Engine, and especially "Memory Of Water" and the title track, but vary it a bit with other elements (that I'll talk about as we continue), you will have a pretty good handle on what to expect. Although you will find Marillion on Kendall's list of influences, aside from this comparison, you will not find that the music, which is often guitar centric (Kendall is mainly a guitarist), bears any other strong resemblances. (We had this same mode on the previous release Poles Apart, by the way).

So, with this in mind, we get a trio of pieces that build on that mood: "Equal" has a dreamy arrangement, which creates a creamy background for the sharp and direct, yet languid, guitar solo. An economy of notes express a great deal of feeling, whether coming in rapid sequence or allowed to linger ... and you've been following my CD odyssey thus far, you know this just the kind of playing I love. It's the second track in, but I think it is where disc one really gets going.

The track that follows, "Motherhood," has classic feel - a touch of Alan Parson's Project "Time" but that may not necessarily be the first thing that comes to mind; here it's the drum and keyboards that make think of that; chiming guitar and vocals take it in a different, more lively direction (and not quite as dreamy). The poppier of three - pop in a very prog kind of way - is the lovely "Shine." It has a little more of a "sing-a-long" quality to it with a catchy chorus.

Also on Kendall's list of influences you will find Pink Floyd, and this comes to bear in the first part, "Pull You Down," of the three part title track. Acidic guitar phrases (which we also heard on the opening track "Jubal") create jagged eddies that mimic the drawing motion that the rest of the arrangement has. "Seven Sins" is more turbulent, harsher, and heavier - bass coming much more to the fore and keyboards receding in the mix (at least during the vocal sections). With the third part, we're back to the mid-tempo, mellow style of the other disc's piece, "The Fire" having much in common with "Shine," though not quite as bright and upbeat arrangement-wise.

Disc two is a continuation of disk one. Not that Kendall is repeating himself, per se. All pieces have a consistent and overall tone, making it feel like a concept album -- and the liner notes suggest that it is a broad sense, saying: "Dedicated to those we have lost - reminding us to make our live mean something." So, not so much concept as subtext, context. This second disk seems more "acoustic" than the first disk, but given the soft focus of all the pieces, it's a fine distinction.

This second disc begins with the epic "Change"- a fabulous guitar solo is what makes it so. Epic in the sense of size, not length... moving from very mellow and understated, to something vast, and very much in a classic mode. It's Marillion-like in construction, but not in sound. Acoustic guitar opens and closes the piece, joined by a breathy keyboard to end things. Oh, and there is also a very moody, atmospheric and spacey section to truly open the piece. It's organ that gets the solo spot on "Falling," with a dark yet bubbly tone (akin to... Ambrosia, maybe; not the churning style of Emerson). The moody, bluesy "Honesty" is much more like the middle pieces on the first disk, and mostly "Seven Sins" though not as turbulent, being more like "Shine" in it's epicy parts. And unlike elsewhere, we get a Hendrix-inspired acid-inflected guitar solo played with a bluesy swing. We've had acidic - fuzzed - leads elsewhere, but here they are a bit more precise, a bit more...acidic. This gives way to watery keyboards, tinkly, piano-like runs and sparse percussion. Pink Floyd gets another nod, here in the spacey, bubbly keyboard effects (think DSotM). Churning turbulence returns actually in "Flying Blind" - here I find the keyboards just a few pitches shy of shrill, but I've never been a fan of those ultra-silvery tones from anyone. Throaty guitar seems throatier in comparison. "Need" joins the other epic pieces, as it too has a big sound, rich and expansive. And the perfect way to end an album, as it has that "riding off into the sunset, triumphant" feel about it.

You can't help but like Root; there's nothing offensive or off putting - unless you have a problem with those Hogarth like vocals. Obviously, being the Marillioniac I am - at least have been in the past - you know I don't. Don't have a problem with them, I mean. Though, um, I'll grant that Kendall sounds like Hogarth, but not exactly, as I don't think he's quite as strong a vocalist. Because Kendall has such a "soft" and "understated" vocal tone, when he tries to sound a little more aggressive, it doesn't work as well as with the mellower pieces. Not that it doesn't work at all, just that it's the wrong kind of voice for that context. Incidentally, I do want to say that I don't think he's trying to sound like Hogarth, just that he naturally does.

But wow, what a guitarist. His playing throughout is the highlight and the reason to check this out. And unlike many do-it-all productions, Kendall does it all very well. If these are electronic drums, they don't sound it (another example of a well rounded "do-it-all"-er is Steve Unruh). But his guitar playing is stellar. Yes, it's all very mellow and dreamy and given a "soft focus," but it's an album you can get lost in, relax, and be transported...

Oh yeh, Kendall also did all the album's artwork

Disc One: Jubal (9:56) / Equal (8:58) / Motherhood (6:16) / Shine (4:21) / Resolution (19:39): i) Pull You Down - ii) Seven Sins - iii) The Fire

Disc Two: Change (7:42) / Falling (7:43) / Welcome Glow (4:38) / Honesty (10:47) / Flying Blind (5:18) / Need (8:00)

David Kendall - guitars, vocals, and everything else

Dreams Of Green (1998)
Follow The Dawn (1999)
Poles Apart (2000)
Resolution (2003)
Illumination (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: December 11th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 902
Language: english


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