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Wesley, John: The Lilypad Suite

John Wesley has been around since the early 90s. His first solo album, Under the Red & White Sky, along with The Closing of the Pale Blue Eyes, is one of the most intense, heartbreaking solo albums I've ever heard. It deals with the theme of loss in a very unique way with masterful songwriting, excellent vocals, and arresting atmosphere. Finally when I heard Wesley's other solo disc, Emperor Falls, I was hooked forever. How such a talented artist could go so unnoticed and be so underrated has always left me in disbelief.

Thankfully, after a long stint with Marilion as a touring member, Wesley joined the great Porcupine Tree and has been touring with them for a long time now as well as doing solo performances. Wilson has mixed his previous solo album and this one was mixed and mastered by Steven Orchard, who handled Porcupine Tree's last album, The Incident, so the connection between them is strong on many levels.

The Lilypad Suite is quite a short album at only 31 minutes. Except for the first two tunes, it is a collection of songs written around a theme. Here is what it says in the booklet about the concept:

"The Lilypad Suite is a collection of songs inspired by the struggle of a young girl to come to terms with the absence of her father. The character of 'Lilypad' is an amalgam of several people who, through the years, have shared the stories of their journeys from loss into understanding."

Musically, by the time "Free" starts, you know Wesley's sound from the 90s is kept intact. He still sings in a low register, stressing syllables in a unique manner while accentuating the melodies and themes without shoving it all down your throat. His lyrics are stories of bruised, broken people and his writing is unbelievably well crafted. His songs flow seamlessly from one into another, though this being a concept album he utilizes some effects on his guitar sound to portray the intended emotions. The bluesy, Gilmour-like guitar crescendo of "Lost" is absolutely mesmerizing as is the beautifully arranged pop of "A Glittery Nothing," complete with a strong percussive element (by longtime drummer Mark Prator). Occasionally, he delves into heavier territory, emphasizing thicker chord progressions, but they are brief and kept to a minimum. "Walls of America" is the typical Wesley song, from the drum and bass arrangement to the build-up of the whole music and vocal parts that drip with sheer raw emotion. However, he keeps the best for the last: "Firelight" recalls his most intense songs on Emperor Falls and concludes with a guitar solo that comes from another realm. In a perfect world, this solo would be the most emotional solo people speak of. The whole 'concept' is wrapped up with the short hidden track where the little girl comes to terms with reality.

I picked this album up along with Steven Wilson's Grace for Drowning and have been listening to both back to back. In 2012, John Wesley is going to release his new solo album, Disconnect. He's been working on it for a long time, so make sure you check it out.

Track Listing

  1. An Elegant Mess
  2. Free
  3. A.M.W.
  4. Wall of America
  5. A Glittery Nothing
  6. Still Waiting
  7. Lost
  8. Firelight

Added: October 1st 2011
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: John Wesley website
Hits: 2669
Language: english

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