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Wilson, Ray: The Next Best Thing

With The Next Best Thing, vocalist and songwriter Ray Wilson is poised to put the ex-Stiltskin and ex-Genesis singer tags behind him. Over the course of a scant forty six minutes, Wilson delivers twelve confessional vignettes that produce a composite of a man in the process of reinventing himself. That he does so successfully is proof that he is far more talented than he has been given credit for, certainly in the United States at least.

The album begins with "These Are The Changes", Wilson's commentary on world events and a condemnation of American foreign policy. This is a very different song because Wilson only sings a repeated refrain of "These are the changes the day brings us" while the verses are "sung" using samples from various sound bites from the likes of George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, among others. Next is "Inside", a newly recorded version of an old Stiltskin song. The lyrics relate to the topical issues raised by "These Are the Changes". "How High" is very reminiscent of Led Zeppelin's "The Battle of Evermore", particularly with regard to the mandolins and the overall spiritual tone of the lyrics. "The Fool In Me" is an excellent song that allows Wilson to rock out a bit. I especially like the unexpected trumpet solo, a nice touch to a song that ends far too soon. Wilson's gently raspy voice is at its very best on ballads like "Sometimes" and "Alone", the former driven by lyrics focused on lost love and the latter on alienation. "The Actor" is a candid look back to Wilson's perceived failure in keeping the Genesis juggernaut rolling. The album concludes with the title track, an instrumental piece featuring a piano arrangement that brings Bruce Hornsby to mind.

The Next Best Thing is not prog-rock but it is far too classy to be considered pop. Rather, it is a new introduction to an underrated singer/songwriter. With the proper backing, there is no reason why Mr. Wilson and his songs couldn't break into the mainstream. Mention must be made to the wonderful crystal clear production as well. Recommended.

Track Listing

  1. These Are the Changes (3:36)
  2. Inside (4:02)
  3. How High (3:33)
  4. The Fool in Me (3:23)
  5. Adolescent Breakdown (2:54)
  6. Sometimes (3:27)
  7. Alone (4:14)
  8. Magic Train (3:32)
  9. The Actor (4:39)
  10. Ever the Reason (4:09)
  11. Pumpkinhead (4:06)
  12. The Next Best Thing (3:57)
Total Time: 45:40

Added: July 14th 2004
Reviewer: Steve Pettengill
Related Link: Official Ray Wilson Website
Hits: 4584
Language: english

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