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Cue: Five Steps to Happiness

Cue are a five piece band from the Netherlands who formed in 2008. Five Steps to Happiness is the band's second album and was released in August of this year. In the band are Senne Bergsma (drums), Saskia Bultman (vocals, spoken word), Chris Henny (guitar, vocals), Ronald Rote (keyboard, background vocals) and Ron Sedee (bass guitar).

Five Steps to Happiness is a concept/rock opera piece about a boy named Tim who comes across a ticket to an enchanted land. Written on the ticket are the five steps, directions if you will, that one must follow to arrive at this magical place. The boy sets on a journey and Five Steps to Happiness is the telling of his story. Sort of reminds me of the classic children's tale Alice in Wonderland, although the stories are quite dissimilar to one another.

When performing live the band appears on stage in full costume and the band members play individual roles acting out the storyline. The music that goes along with the story is quite good. Very cinematic in scope and often quite dramatic with excellent use of guitars and keyboards. The songs are constructed from poppy elements but the band adds more than enough longer instrumental sections to keep this under the progressive umbrella. The musicians are more than competent and after listening to this double CD set I would be quite interested in seeing the band perform in a live setting.

The first CD consists of sixteen songs ranging in length from less than one minute to over thirteen. There are many narrative segments scattered throughout telling the story in true rock opera fashion. The lead vocals of Bultman are very strong and at times she reminds me a little of Kate Bush. Other lead vocals are provided by Chris Heddy whose accent took a little while to get used to but is not really a problem. The band produces some great harmonies and the songs are very melodic . The poppier elements should provide cross-over appeal for many fans sitting on the fringe of progressive rock. Highlights include the gently flowing "Bedtime Stories" with a sprinkling of soothing piano and the progressive "Tall Shadows In The Wall" featuring Bultman's jazz inflected vocals and enough stops and starts to keep things interesting. "Merry Christmas In The Cemetery", the longest song on disc 1, has a classic '70s vibe with swells of organ and an overall cinematic/rock opera feel.

The second disc is equally as strong beginning with the short "Million Tiny Hammers", a stark number with effective piano and acoustic guitar and Bultman's jazzy vocal delivery. Narration helps to propel the storyline before bleeding into the minimalistic "Night At The Graveyard" where dissonant piano chords set the tone. The band exhibits a touch of avant-garde with "Confetti", one of the more unusual tracks with a marching snare drum and some wild guitar parts that get heavier as the song progresses. The album closes with "Borkulo Song", showcasing the considerable skills of Henny's guitar playing. It is all very melodic and a pleasing finale to what is a fine album.

This one took a couple of spins before it caught but once it did I really enjoyed it. If you are a fan of the rock opera/concept album format Five Steps To Happiness will be well worth your time.

Track Listing:
CD 1
1. Merry In The Cemetery
2. Dancing In The Graveyard
3. Bedtime Stories
4. A Day In The Life Of A Flower Collector
5. Tall Shadows In The Wall
6. Terrible Night
7. Doubt
8. Hitching A Ride
9. Borkulo Blues
10. Bad-Luck Girl From Borkulo
11. Borkulo Blues Reprise
12. Ophelia's Song
13. Tim Sees Ophelia Escape
14. She Escapes
15. First Contact I
16. First Contact II

CD 2
1. Million Tiny Hammers
2. Night At The Graveyard
3. Confetti
4. Do You Want To Go To Borkulo
5. Walk In The Park
6. Five Steps To Happiness
7. The Gate Opens
8. They Felt Different Now
9. Never The Same Again
10. Out And Over
11. Borkulo Song

Added: December 10th 2010
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 1993
Language: english

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