â€œNight Flaresâ€ showcases the Greg MacPherson Band in a very Delirious-like state; â€œTwo Haircuts in Oneâ€ has incredible similarities to tracks like â€œ Gravityâ€. The same soulful set of vocals and jangling guitar, topped off by a work-horse set of drum makes this track sparkle in its pedestrianness. This same laidback sound continues in â€œKingstonâ€, which is maintained even through the gradually increasing intensity of MacPhersonâ€™s vocals. The same general sound predominates on this disc, and while the vocals on tracks like â€œCutting Roomâ€ are influenced by Neil Young, the journeyperson guitar riffs that predominate really do not give listeners many reasons to continue listening. The first real move away from the norm on â€œNight Flaresâ€ are the slight derivations found during the stanzas of â€œThe Show is in the Basementâ€, which lean towards â€œPinball Wizardâ€-era Who. The slower tempo of â€œPressureâ€, while being as a whole more intricate than the average track on â€œNight Flaresâ€, fails instrumentally to keep the audience in the disc, putting an untenable weight on Gregâ€™s vocals. The vocals on â€œPressureâ€, while strong and emotionally invested, need stronger instrumental presence to work off of and truly shine.
The â€œchanging horses in mid-streamâ€ award goes to the band for their inclusion of a second vocalist on â€œHotel Motelâ€. This inclusion does well in combating some of the greatest problems of repetitive arrangements and Spartan sounds by accentuating Gregâ€™s voice. â€œSouthern Lightsâ€ is the major jump-off point for a louder, more rambunctious sound by the band, sadly cut short by the twin behemoths of â€œCaliforniaâ€ and â€œBlind Dateâ€, two six-plus minutes track that underwhelm with their plodding nature and snailâ€™s pace. â€œBlind Dateâ€ is not all bad, thought; the strained, emotional vocals of Greg actually need the bland backdrop to create a dichotomy that makes them stand out all the more.
The catchiness of â€œGood Times Coming Back Againâ€ has been replaced by a more introspective utterance of vocals, influenced more by Hayden and The Mars Volta than by Jakob Dylan and Warren Zevon. The disc has strong vocals throughout but a sub-par arrangement wreaks havoc on what seems to be a solid band. â€œThe Sun Beats Downâ€ closes off the disc in the same weak-starting way as has been the custom of the second-half of the disc; even the inclusion of a synthesizer cannot supplant the wide open silences that threaten to engulf the singer.
Top Tracks: Kingston, Hotel Motel
Greg MacPherson Band â€“ Night Flares / 2005 G7 Welcoming Committee / 11 Tracks / http://www.gregmacpherson.com / http://www.g7welcomingcommittee.com / Reviewed 27 April 2005