Great lyrical message here, and ... plenty of musical references to make a progh
I think that Desi has already given a clear statement of the theme behind this "opralet". It's basically a concept album, a musical vehicle which those of us who embraced progressive rock in the 1970s are very familiar with and many of us love. The musical journey he takes you on here, in the best tradition of concept albums, leaves a lot of meaning open for interpretation rather than trying to state absolutes. Lyrically, it will make you think, evaluate current events, and will totally absorb your heart with the emotion behind the composition and performance. I will try to avoid interpreting the lyrical message in this writing; it would probably fall short of matching up with your own lyrical impressions, anyway. Instead, I'll play to the progheads in the audience here, and have a little fun telling you about my little musical discoveries along the way .
Track 1 - Believe.: I'm smiles right away, because this lively, throaty little synth bass line underpinning this track makes me think of my favorite Alan Parsons Project compositions. But wait ... Alan never had a piano player who could come close to these chops! Surprise 2 at 4:48: HUGE ascending piano chord progression that modulates a few times and hints that there is great respect for Keith Emerson here.
Track 2 - Back to Eden: That Alan Parsons rhythmic thing is still going on, but the track brings in some inspired electric guitar soloing by Chris Sims. There is a nice vocal back and forth setup between principal female vocalist Bebe and Mickey Jennings.
Track 3 - "I Am Me": Here the orchestrations underpin perhaps the most poignant vocal performance on the album, delivered with much heart by Mickey Jennings.
Track 4 - "Gonna Get Ya”: The music takes a big change here toward the fast and furious, and there is a dramatic vocal performance with Carla Russell of North Alabama band Kozmic Mama, along with bandmate Matt Shook, with his inimitable soulful style. BIG Hammond organ work here on Desi's parts ... ELP fans will detect some great Emerson quotes on the Hammond. I love it :)
Track 5 - "With You" is a track with a very sad underpinning, delivered soulfully by Bebe, who plays the central character, Nereida, in the story. Rhythm and acoustic guitar performances are by Chris Sims, but bluesman David Holland graces the entire track with a singing, throaty lead electric guitar line. ... but it's not just a blues, there are emotional dynamics here, as Desi modulates back and forth between a melancholy minor key and soaring major key runs. This kind of composition is what makes music really listenable to me.
Track 6 - "Thing We Call Love": That bouncy Parson thing is back, and I'm smiling again. We have another guitarist, a Mr. Richard Honoski, on this track, bringing in more fun flavor especially on the guitar solo. Are you picking up on the comparison with Alan Parsons' approach to making a record here? The approach: it's about the music and making it rich and varied. Involve many players, and avoid stardom with any individuals.
Track 7 – “The Battle of Armageddon”: My favorite. This track, weighing in at almost nine minutes of instrumental brilliance, states loud and clear, “Yes – this IS a progressive rock album!” This is a cinematic soundscape – actually a piano concerto movement with a full orchestra arranged behind it. By the way, few progressive rock artists have the musical chops to play OR arrange like this. I will break from original intent, and talk about my emotional interpretation of this track a bit. I hear influences by other great composers who have penned instrumental pieces with a martial theme. The first influence that I hear is Gustav Holst, who opened his 1914 – 1916 suite “The Planets” with the emotionally jarring movement “Mars, The Bringer of War”. Unlike this work, or the long war themed pieces you can hear from Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s repertoire, Desi brings in a taste of war, but he counterbalances the darkness and dread with occasional shifts to positive, uplifting major key sections. To me, these represent the force of love, and its triumph over the potential apocalypse that we often think of when we think of the end times.
Track 8 – “Help Me”: This track is, well, “bleak”, like Desi says in his album notes. It’s not easy to listen to, because this is a point where devastation has brought the central character to a very low point. Can we as a human race somehow avoid this scene?
Track 9 – “Come Back Home”: Vocalist Rudy Mockabee brings the story to a positive conclusion. What a singer, and what a soulful performance!
If you’ve read this far, you MUST be a proghead, and a nerdy one at that. I’ll spare you further blatherings. You won’t be disappointed with this album. Buy it! I can’t wait for the full stage performance!