Guerin, Shaun - By The Dark Of Light

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Clearlight 888 Music
Catalog Number: C8M-400
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:41:00

What will immediately strike you upon listening to Shaun Guerin's By The Dark Of Light, and what most reviewers will likely zero in on, is how much this sounds like the album that the classic Genesis line up didn't make. What does that mean? Guerin (as vocalist) mostly sounds like Peter Gabriel, though Gabriel at his most reflective, though there are occasions where he sounds like Phil Collins. (Guerin sings and plays drums with the Genesis tribute band Cinema Show[*]). Musically it sounds like what would result if you were to take that classic 70s Genesis sound, add in some of the better elements from latter day Genesis and mix them together. Then throw in some jazz bits and some un-Banks like keyboard phrases (more in a moment) and mix again. Basically, the result is modern prog with a 70s patina, brought about by the warm, blended production. Things here aren't coolly crisp; however, I do find Guerin's delivery a little too reedy, a little too much in one aspect to the way Gabriel sings. It's Gabriel like, but as if Gabriel had a touch of laryngitis and didn't want to blow out his voice entirely.

I do want to add that it's not that same modern take we heard with Mark 1, however. And yet, it is not taking familiar Genesis riffs and making something different of them. Of course, having your album cover designed by Paul Whitehead, who created those classic Genesis covers, does let us know that this is more than mere coincidence. Whitehead's artwork ("Aquarius" is used for the cover) actually graces the entire CD, utilizing 3 additional pieces ("Stairway To Heaven," detail of "Spiritual Self Portrait" and "Earth Wind & Fire").

Keyboards. Maybe it's because I've had an ELP fixation of late, but there are times during this CD where the keyboards (Guerin again, who plays everything on every track with one exception) are more Emerson than Banks, both in their "serious" piano tones, and the "happy" parpy organ tones. The latter will also remind you of much what could be heard in early to mid-80s UK prog, band inspired to one degree or another by Genesis. Of course, the bands I'm thinking of are still making music, though this keyboard sound has all but been left behind.

The pounding piano/drum intro to "Run To Fall" made me think of Queen's "Flash's Theme" (from the Flash Gordon soundtrack). So much so, that I expected a "Flash! Ah-ah. Savior of the universe" to burst forth from my speakers. Ah, but fairly quickly we get some xylophone like sounds and some militaristic orchestration. Actually, after this boomy intro, the track settles into an active, but much mellower arrangement that is reminiscent of Mannheim Steamroller. There is that certain keyboard/organ tone the MS have that I just associate with them, though here we also have some Emersonian elements.

It isn't as if there is an ELP side and a Genesis side, as it does bring in the Emerson element over the very sparse Gabriel-like vocals. This piece is an instrumental, with a brief bit of dreamy vocalizations thrown in. The album itself is a mix of vocal and instrumental pieces, the latter being the majority. Guerin plays all the instruments heard, as mentioned, which includes the unmentioned bass and guitar duties, though Jay J. Brown adds guitar to "Sing My Prayers." The instrumentals are, overall, more energetic than the slower paced vocal tracks, and are to me a little more musically interesting. The sedate Gabriel element is just a tad too sedate. The instruments have more to do in the instrumentals, beyond those just taking leads. "Victory" is a little on the long side, though it a track that is only a little over five minutes long.

"Sing My Prayers" has that same heavy, ballsy sound that ELP had on Black Moon and that Collins-led Genesis adopted for "The Last Domino" on Invisible Touch with a hint of "Mama" (Genesis). And even "The Dividing Line" from when Ray Wilson fronted the short-lived 1997 Genesis lineup (Calling All Stations). Guerin's thin, dry vocals don't give this piece much interest or even the same punch that the "source material" had. The dreamy effect is laid on a little too much, livening up just a bit towards the end. The spiritual/ecological lyrical themes draw in a bit of Yes, though unlike some of Jon Anderson's lyrics, these aren't inscrutable... otherwise Yes doesn't come into the mix at all.

By The Dark Of Light is an above average album, mainly elevated by the instrumental pieces, and worth a listen, but once the "cool, he sounds like Gabriel" factor has worn a little thin, we're left with about half an album that will hold up to repeat plays.

*Sadly, Guerin passed away in 2003 ?ed.

By The Dark Of Light (4:47) / This Is Not My World (4:28) / France (5:57) / Run To Fall (6:01) / She's Sad (4:01) / Victory (5:07) / Sing My Prayers (6:18) / Son Of Gorp (5:17) / No Misery (5:08) / Crazy (2:57)

Shaun Guerin - drums, keyboards, vocals, bass and guitar
Jay J Brown - guitar (7)

By The Dark Of Light (2002)
The Epic Quality Of Life (2003)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: December 15th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 927
Language: english


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