Southeast American folk-proggers Farpoint became a sextet during the transition from last year's First Light to this year's Grace; Mike Avins is their new lead & rhythm electric guitar player, allowing Kevin Jarvis to concentrate on acoustic & classical guitars, and mandolin. Co-lead vocalist Clark Boone also handles 12-string acoustic guitar, and his counterpart Dana Oxendine is flutist & keyboardist. Frank Tyson and Johnathan Rodriguez carry on as Farpoint's bassist and drummer , respectively. Grace follows many paths dictated by the band members' influences while never sticking too closely to one, for too long; Kansas, Renaissance, A.D. (Kansas guitarist Kerry Livgren's Christian rock ensemble), and shades of 70s-era Bob Seger, Heart and Jethro Tull can also be detected. Farpoint evade the potential stigmata of pastiche thanks to the overwhelming conviction with which they write and perform.
Farpoint's brand of organic folksy blue-rock will not appeal to fans of overly-technical music (nor do they target such an audience)—in fact, the only fault the album has is that the trajectories its musical avenues make don't sway right or left often enough. But listen to the uppity swagger of "Nevermore" and try to resist its pull; new member Avins gets much room to work with—yet no one is left out, with so many members. "H2Origins" is one of the best cuts, emphasizing a more heavy-duty rock sound, an active piano line (and vocal) by Oxendine, and Avins' blistering guitar lead that evokes Kerry Livgren. "Yesterday" is led by Boone's passionate vox; Oxendine lays down a nice solo with a pleasing organ/synth layer, and several Latin-tinged bars of Avins' guitar solo inexplicably channel Los Lobos' David Hidalgo. The atmospheric seven-minute title track commences with the eerie spoken words of Rich Walker (who does likewise for "Into The Night") and the sound of falling rain; Kevin Jarvis' acoustic guitar is peppered over by individual staccato notes from Tyson's bass, generating fabulous tension while a low bass drone is sustained by Oxendine—another of the best tracks, not coincidentally.
Grace's eleven tracks are a very professional, organic-sounding affair; this sort of production is commonly eschewed in this day & age thanks to the prominence of digital software recording tools, which lend a sterile sheen to many a work. The players perform flawlessly, and are surely a spot-on act to catch live.