Greg MacPherson Band – Night Flares (CD)

“Night Flares” showcases the Greg MacPherson Band in a very Delirious-like state; “Two Haircuts in One” has incredible similarities to tracks like “ Gravity”. 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 “Kingston”, which is maintained even through the gradually increasing intensity of MacPherson’s vocals. The same general sound predominates on this disc, and while the vocals on tracks like “Cutting Room” 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 “Night Flares” are the slight derivations found during the stanzas of “The Show is in the Basement”, which lean towards “Pinball Wizard”-era Who. The slower tempo of “Pressure”, while being as a whole more intricate than the average track on “Night Flares”, fails instrumentally to keep the audience in the disc, putting an untenable weight on Greg’s vocals. The vocals on “Pressure”, while strong and emotionally invested, need stronger instrumental presence to work off of and truly shine.

The “changing horses in mid-stream” award goes to the band for their inclusion of a second vocalist on “Hotel Motel”. This inclusion does well in combating some of the greatest problems of repetitive arrangements and Spartan sounds by accentuating Greg’s voice. “Southern Lights” is the major jump-off point for a louder, more rambunctious sound by the band, sadly cut short by the twin behemoths of “California” and “Blind Date”, two six-plus minutes track that underwhelm with their plodding nature and snail’s pace. “Blind Date” 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The catchiness of “Good Times Coming Back Again” has been replaced by a more introspective utterance of vocals, influenced more by Hayden and The Mars Volta than by Jakob Dylan and Warren Zevon.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. “The Sun Beats Down” 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

Rating: 4.9/10

Greg MacPherson Band – Night Flares / 2005 G7 Welcoming Committee / 11 Tracks / / / Reviewed 27 April 2005

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