Exit Stage Left – Appleberry Trees
This comes with a brightly ignited progressive style — a bit English in the way they apply a progressive rock arrangement to their storytelling. Quite good too. They’re close to New Wave inventiveness, but it’s limited.
They’re not as bombastic as Yes or Rush which had little to nothing to do with the roots of rock music. Their influence of Rush is probably more “Time Stands Still” era. But the great appeal is how excellent this band is recorded & has a favorable approach to their arrangements. A cautious look at life comes with “Piece of Gold,” — the lead-off with flutes, guitars & vocals marvelously weaved together.
No overly dramatic vocals (King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man”) but they do have the presence of progressive vocalists. Perhaps Kansas or Triumvirate. While English bands led the way with this music in the late 60s it is based on American jazz in theory. Time changes, shifts in melody. The danger in this music comes when it slips into pomposity. That isn’t evident in compositions such as “Good People.” This is at times dramatic, but the instrumentality manages a degree of satisfaction. Exit Stage Left keeps it balanced & that alone is impressive.
“End of the Night,” surfaces with fascinating percussive work & lead guitar much the same as the Italian prog rock band PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi) — masters of this conglomeration since the early 70s. They always interlocked folky traditional melodies (“River of Life” & “Celebration”) into a progressive soup. Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull even played with them live lending rural character.
The key is to shy away from too many fairy tales, crystal balls & knights in armor. Rock music today doesn’t get the nod for such outlandish trips. It’s what punk fought against. But the vocals on these songs are fine-tuned.
The 51-minute, 10-cut Appleberry Trees (Dropped March 31–XPRNC) is a lightly constructed Swedish concept LP. It follows a man from his early years through all the challenges he meets in life. Growing up, maturing & realizing not everything turns out as planned. The title cut has balladry where the skillful melody is tenderly etched in the instrumental lines.
A little too progressive at times but an excellent performance, nonetheless. “Vagabond’s Respite,” is tempered with a fertility of imagination. Folk purists may not go along with this but listeners of the Incredible String Band, early Strawbs, Magna Carta & Fairport Convention will.
Not to be confused with Rush tribute bands from Canada with the same band name.
Highlights – “Piece of Gold,” ”End of the Night,” “Appleberry Trees” “Vagabond’s Respite,” “Son” & “The Poet.”
Musicians – Arvid Wilhelmsson (guitar/vocals), Robin Hellsing (bass), Daniel Lyngsaa Larson (keyboards/bgv) & Jimmy Svahn (drums).
Color image courtesy of Hemifran. CD @ iTunes & https://linktr.ee/ExitStageLeft & Hemifran.