Echolyn - Cowboy Poems Free

Year of Release: 2000
Label: self-released/Velveteen
Catalog Number: VR-2006-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:34:00

As I've said elsewhere, I didn't start collecting prog until late 1991-early 1992. One of those first CDs that I picked up was Echolyn's self-titled debut. While I liked that disk, I didn't become totally enamoured of it, though a few tracks stuck with me, like "Until It Rains." I did like it enough to buy their rest of their catalog as it came out, but didn't quite get into it. I felt, though, that they were a hope for a resurgence in American prog; I was disappointed when they split.

So, here we are a few years later with a new Echolyn disk. The fourth track on Cowboy Poems Free struck me right away. "Grey Flannel Suits" is more popish than the music on previous Echolyn disks and this made me think of Squeeze. Now, as I like Squeeze, that isn't a bad thing. I do like the song, it's energetic and snappy?and also, in some ways, toward the end, a bit Beatles-esque.

"High As Pride" also stands out; this is a slow tempo number, with a very nice guitar solo part way through. A solo that made think of classic 70's rock?Eagles and the like (again, meant positively).

"American Vacation Tune" sounds more like the Echolyn I remember from the self-titled debut. And though stylistically it is "classic Echolyn" ? it seems like a much more mature and skilled Echolyn. The vocals were the weakest part of Echolyn for me, but Weston's voice has improved greatly, though on this track it's Brett Kull on vocals, and methinks he sounds a bit like Neal Morse.

Hmm ? yes, there is also that "something" that says to me Ameriprog ? I can't really give it a name, but it is a certain energy or feel that differentiates American progressive music from European progressive music. Perhaps it's the difference between rock forms and classical forms. In general of course, as you can't say that about every American progressive band or every European progressive band. And, it may just be that that "something" is what I'm drawn to.

"67 Degrees" is another song that draws you in. Musically quite muscular with dark, heavy tones (not metal, mind you). Percussion and bass are up front, though there are a couple of swirly vocals and atmospheric guitar breaks. Keys both intro and outro this track in gentle, though forboding tones. This is another that harks back to their earlier material, adding a more updated sound.

"Too Late For Everything" is another track that stood out for me, though here Echolyn sound like an amalgam of America and Spock's Beard - America like harmonies and tones, Beard-like arrangements. I keep thinking of America's "Only In Your Heart." (If it means anything, I often thought that Spock's Beard sounded like Echolyn).

I've only scratched the surface, as there's the whole unified theme of the album, which touches upon various bits of Americana. There are the four "Poems" - I love the odd groove to "Poem #4" that segues into "Too Late?" (which echoes "67 Degrees") That odd groove comes from the hammered dulcimer, handclaps, drum loops, and bass.

Texas Dust (5:16) / Poem #1 (1:33) / Human Lottery (5:32) / Gray Flannel Suits (4:47) / Poem #2 (0:59) / High As Pride (6:45) / American Vacation Tune (5:18) / Swingin' The Ax (3:15) / 1729 Broadway (6:01) / Poem #3 (1:50) / 67 Degrees (5:21) / Brittany (6:34) / Poem #4 (1:30) / Too Late For Everything (4:33)

Christopher Buzby - Hammond, Rhodes, synth, Wurlitzer, table organ, talk box, backing vocals, clavinet, alto and soprano sax, autoharp, cajon, accordian, tenor and soprano recorders, hammered dulcimer, harmonica, melodion, ocarina, 'wow' earthbell, handclaps
Brett Kull - electric guitar, lead and backing vocals, lap steel, acoustic guitar, Indian banjo, tremolo 'wah' guitar, ebow, mandolin, jaymar
Jordan Perlson - drums, congas, cowbell, rainstick, saw blade, shaker, tambourine, riq, sleigh bells, tabla, timbale, ashiko, brushes, concert bells, bell tree, loops, handclaps
Paul Ramsey - drums, percussion, bell tree, claves, congas, quinto, shaker, timbale, watering pail (!), drum loop, sleigh bells, vibraslap, tambourine, wind chimes, guiro, tabla, concert bells
Ray Weston - bass, lead and backing vocals

Echolyn (1991)
Suffocating The Bloom (1992)
...And Every Blossom (1993)
As The World (1995)
When The Sweet Turns Sour (1996)
Cowboy Poems Free (2000/2008*)
ProgFest '94: The Official Bootleg (2002)
mei (2002)
A Little Nonesense: Now And Then (2002)
Official Live Bootleg: Jersey Tomato (2003)
As The World (expanded reissue) (2005)
The End Is Beautiful (2005)
Echolyn (**) (2012)
I Heard You Listening (2015)
Home Brew Bootleg Stew 1994-95 (VHS) (1995, oop)
Stars And Gardens Vol 4. (DVD) (2004)

*remastered **not the same album as the debut

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: July 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1863
Language: english


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