Lisa LaRue 2KX
Fast And Blue (Fingerwoven/First People Media, 2011)
Keyboardist and composer Lisa LaRue is one of the great revelations in recent months in the progressive rock arena. Her new album Fast And Blue reveals one of the rising talents in the symphonic progressive rock category.
Fast And Blue is primarily instrumental and Lisa LaRue has assembled an impressive cast of musicians. Her band comprises herself on keyboards, Steve Adams of the prog duo ARZ on guitars and bass, and Merrill Hale, the other component of ARZ, on drums. Guests include Don Schiff on NS stick, John Payne (Asia) on vocals, cellist Mike Alvarez, guitarist Mitch Perry (Edgar Winter Group, MSG, Cher and more), vocalist Michael Sadler (Saga), keyboardist Ryo Okumoto (Spock’s Beard and GPS) and backing vocalist Maxi Nil (Visions of Atlantis).
The epic ‘Prometheus’ (track 2) is one of the highlights, a 17:58 mini-symphony that weaves virtuoso keyboard work by LaRue, outstanding guitar creation and a potent rhythm section with orchestral percussion.
The epic is followed by another gem, a delightful neoclassical acoustic piece titled ‘Tryptych’ which is based on the sound of superb acoustic guitars, masterful cello and dreamy reverberating piano.
Track 4, ‘Jam Jehan Nima’ is the second longest piece. It begins with soaring electric guitars, rich symphonic keyboard harmonies and captivating synth solos that lead into an exploratory section and mesmerizing Benedictine chant. However, close to the end of the composition, the music enters hard rock territory. I don’t think hard rock or heavy metal belongs in progressive rock and LaRue could have gone in a more interesting direction.
Things get back to solid progressive rock on ‘Lament of the Cherokee/Ruins of Home.’ The piece has two parts. The first section is a spoken word tribute to the Cherokee tribe. Lisa LaRue has Cherokee heritage and is an enrolled member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, which are descendants of the North Carolina natives that were sent to Oklahoma. The second part of the composition is purely instrumental with state of the art prog rock featuring outstanding intertwining guitar work.
‘Fast and Blue’ (track 6) features vocals by John Payne. They are good rock vocals, but better suited for hard rock or AOR. It’s probably the most radio friendly song and therefore, the least interesting.
The album concludes with ‘Recurring Dream’. The song begins with a great keyboard introduction, although brief, that leads into another unimpressive vocal piece.
Keyboardist and composer Lisa LaRue has recorded an impressive album, rich in detail. She shows tremendous potential in the progressive rock genre and I look forward to hearing more of her work.