Canvas - The Rhythm And The Rhyme

Year of Release: 2000
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:30:00

I need to start off this review by telling you that Canvas aren't a bad band. They sound great, have a very warm tone, play very well and are very appealing. I like their sound and I like this album, but... Yes, there's a "but." The "but" is this -- they also sound very derivative. They aren't really progressive, though if you consider Kansas an American prog band (versus "just" an American band), then Canvas does flirt with the category. Their musical muse comes from the American midwest, southwest, and south -- basically music that evokes the landscape between parts of Southern California to the west through Georgia to the east and as far north as Kansas (naturally). So, what exactly does all this mean?

I had to wonder after listening to The Rhythm And The Rhyme several times if this album wasn't meant to be a tribute album, taking known "rhythms and rhymes" and putting new lyrics to them. I say this because, for example, "Neon World" is one part Pink Floyd's "Fearless" (Meddle) and two parts REM, including "Crush With Eyeliner" from Monster. Okay, maybe it's just because guitarist Matt Sweitzer has used the same fluttery guitar effects as REM did on "Crush...", I don't know, or the sleepy delivery of the verses makes me think of Floyd. Putting these two elements together is certainly something different, especially as Pink Floyd are an English band. REM fit right in, of course, being from Georgia.

But that's not all -- take a little Doobie Brothers (California), a little Allman Brothers Band (Georgia), Crosby Stills and Nash (California), Kansas (Kansas) and others to be named later, stick them into a blender, blend until completely blended, add in a thesaurus and viola! Insta-hits. Hmm, at one point during "Home" I even hear a few very brief guitar notes of Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein," though played at a much slower pace (Winter is from Mississippi). Later on, we get a Bread/Bob Dylan tribute by way of "2000 Miles Away" which is one part "Guitar Man," one part "Mr. Bojangles." The Dylan aspect comes more in the delivery of vocals, as if sung by Jim Croce (Pennsylvania). And there are bits of lyrics that will make you think of The Band ("The Weight" comes to mind), and like The Band, Dylan and Croce material, it's a song/story, this lasting 7:26. My dad was around while this was playing and he said, "that sounds like 'Three Times A Lady,'" the Commodores hit. Not exactly, but I know what he means. In telling him the name of the band, he said, "Kansas?" I hadn't noticed that similarity. In a way, the song wants to be "(Sittin' On The) Dock Of The Bay" as there is a similar theme, but the same could be said of any song about being away from home. Of course, Otis Redding was from Georgia, so... there you go. And yes, like Dylan there's a harmonica (Dylan, however, is from Minnesota, The Band were formed in Canada, and Bread formed in California).

There are two exceptions here, though the latter of the two is only marginally different. The first is the bright, sunny, and jangly late-60's-70's jazzy pop of "And It Grows." Oh, lets name-check a cheery Chicago. This is radio-friendly in that Hollies and Zombies kind of way. 40 years ago, the trumpet tones would be provided by Herb Alpert and this would have been released on A&M records, just at the start of summer. But it's keyboardist Chris Cobel here. Chicago also comes to mind with "Me" -- again we get brass by way trumpet from both Cobel and Brad Cotner who plays the closing solo. Think "Colour My World."

The second of these exceptions is "Twilight Journey," which interestingly, and certainly coincidentally, reminded me of Under The Sun and their song "This Golden Voyage" (from their self-titled debut), though this never ventures into the hard rock/metal drive that the UTS track does. Of course, UTS have been compared to Kansas, so...there you go. "Twilight Journey" does head off into some nice places and shows that this band has the musical talent. But as elsewhere, you can name check a dozen southern rock bands. With the deepened vocals tones of Bruce Smith (who also sings on "Home"), who sounds very much like Chris Shyrack, there is an added bit of drama to this track. Sort of like the Eagles during their Desperado or One Of These Nights period (I'm thinking especially of "The Journey" off the latter disc...and isn't that appropriate?).

Another Day (7:16) / Crow (6:18) / Neon World (4:27) / Home (5:15) / Simple Dream (5:25) / 2000 Miles Away (7:26) / And It Grows... (3:52) / Me (5:36) / Twlight Journey (7:53)

Matt Sweitzer - guitars, bass, drum programming, percussion, keyboards; backing vocals (4)
Chris Cobel - keyboards, music, trumpet; backing vocal (9)
Brian Pierce - vocals (2, 4, 7, 8, 9)
Joe Dzuban - vocals (1, 3, 5, 6), violin, harmonica, acoustic guitar (3, 6) and organ (1)
Bruce Smith - vocals (4, 9)

The Rhythm And The Rhyme (promo) (2000)
Avenues (2002)
Digital Pigeon (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: August 31st 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 826
Language: english


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