A combination of guitar orientated rock styles with a sprinkling of gorgeous female vocals
Review by Geoff Penn
Private Press Mastered in the Netherlands in Bergen op Zoom: https://www.headroom-mastering.nl/
My Rating 85/100
Having thoroughly enjoyed reviewing Jan’s 2020 project of the same name I was really looking forward to receiving a hard copy of his follow up album titled ‘The Spire’. However with me living in Cyprus Post Brexit, the mail situation on items sent from the UK is pretty tenuous. Eventually after many weeks in transit the ‘Spire’ arrived just in time for me to take it on holiday transferred in the form of wave files to my IPad.
And so the ‘Spire’ became my traveling companion on this cruise ship around Italy and Croatia etc. So, with plenty of time on deck, the sparkling Mediterranean sea became the backdrop for some exquisite beautifully administered guitar saturated music. The Spire according to the sleeve notes is a symbol of hope and aspirations. For those unfamiliar with Jan’s musical output, he is, in his professional working life, a commercial airline pilot, but away from the cockpit ‘metamorphic transitions occur when the ailerons, elevator and rudder are all swapped for a lead guitar and a stompbox.
‘ One gets the impression that, from a musical perspective, Jan is like an all-consuming sponge soaking up before him all manner of harmonious snippets seemingly from an amazing array of styles and different genera. Indeed he has created a preverbal scrapbook of musical resources. Such treasures he has cleverly fused together with his own unique ideas and instrumental skills both at the compositional stage and in the recording studio. The result in this case being an album of warmth and originality and which adequately displays a definitive A-Z of guitar manipulations.
For those not aware of ‘Long Tall J’ as a guitarist and composer, one could be forgiven if the moniker (LTJ) gives the impression of this album being the works of an ‘American Blues Man’ But far from it LTJ is a master craftsman and The Spire’ is a beautifully presented digipak containing ten tracks of well-considered and beautifully developed guitar based music. From Jan’s website there is a link to a comprehensive downloadable booklet that outlines in great detail the inspiration behind each of the tracks, accompanying musicians and other technical details for each of the tracks,
It would of been foolhardy, on my part, to try and replicate such details as found in the above booklet within this short review. All I would say is this album is not first time listening and needs several plays for the essence of the music to be fully realised and appreciated, but of course the best things in life need work and attention. Another aspect that comes to mind, in relation to the booklet, is that the compositions, support musicians and arrangements are all well documented.
Summary: ‘The Spire’s a superb album that has been assembled with much skill and panache with excellent lead guitar and support keyboards together with beautiful female vocals on selected tracks. If there is any small area of criticism that could be levied it would be that there is a slight overuse the drum machine which takes away a certain stylish percussive element from the proceedings .But this is being extremely picky.