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Wesley, John: Disconnected

To be honest, I wasn't really sure what to expect from this latest solo album by singer/songwriter/guitarist John Wesley, a veteran of the scene who has spent time with Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Fish, Sound of Contact, and Mike Tramp. Some of his previous work has been a tad on the mellow side, but lo and behold on Disconnected he comes out with his guitars blazing and ready for a fight. Though he finds himself now on InsideOut Music, prog this isn't, instead Wesley has moved into hard rock territory, complete with some really fine guitar work and excellent vocals. We've always known this guy had the goods, but I think this album is the first time John has put it all together. Along to help out are Mark Prator (drums), Dean Tidey (guitar), Patrick Bettison (bass), and Geri X (backing vocals).

Things kick off in fine heavy rock fashion on the raging title track, as Wesley wastes little time in creating some memorable riffs and hooks. Both "Any Old Saint" and Once a Warrior" have a darker feel, but no less heavy, and the latter contains an absolutely scorching guitar solo from legendary Rush virtuoso Alex Lifeson. "Window" is more a Celtic flavored pop/folk song, with Wesley almost sounding like Magnum vocalist Bob Catley, before launching back into catchy hard rock with sizzling lead guitar on "Gets You Everytime". The moody "Mary Will" follows, as Wesley shares vocals with Geri X on a track that almost sounds like The Baby's. I'm reminded of some of Porcupine Tree's late '90s material on the dark, heavy "Take What You Need", while "How Goes the War" fluctuates between almost heavy metal riffing and melancholy & atmospheric post rock sounds. "New Life Old Sweat" is like a cross between Magnum and Thin Lizzy, those wonderful Celtic musical themes again coming to the forefront, and the acoustic ballad "Satellite" closes things out in gentle fashion.

This is a very solid outing from the veteran sideman, who shows that he certainly can be a force on his own if he chooses to do so.

Track Listing
1. Disconnect
2. Any Old Saint
3. Once A Warrior
4. Window
5. Gets You Everytime
6. Mary Will
7. Take What You Need
8. How Goes The War
9. New Life Old Sweat

Added: April 3rd 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Facebook Page
Hits: 2116
Language: english

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Wesley, John: Disconnected
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-04-02 17:48:41
My Score:

If you read the interview with John Wesley elsewhere on SoT, then you'll know that the driving forces behind his eighth solo release, Disconnect, are John's guitar and the "disconnect" he and a lot of his acquaintances have experienced towards many different aspects of the world in recent times. Both come through loudly and proudly here.

For many Wesley is best known for augmenting Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson on stage, or writing and performing with Fish, and to a lesser extent contributing to albums by Sound Of Contact and For All We Know (a Ruud Jolie of Within Temptation side project). However his solo work stretches back twenty years now and makes for an impressively eclectic catalogue. Early albums were almost singer-songwriter (with a band) in nature, yet now in 2014 Disconnect finds Wesley as close to solo act Prog as he's ever been. Much of this album could be viewed as more straight Rock, yet with dark lyrical visions, searing guitar passages, countless time signatures and meandering ideas there's little doubt that the influence of working with a certain Mr Wilson is in evidence. Yet, the stinging solos in both "Any Old Saint" and "Once A Warrior" (the latter provided by a certain Alex Lifeson) mark these songs out as excursions into Heavy Rock although the connotations that word conjures remain decidedly inadequate. For while both and much else in evidence has bulging riffs, seldom are they straight forward, seldom do they overpower the melancholy melody of Wesley's voice and seldom do they sit in a conventional groove, while still holding a super-rhythmic vibe. "Window" offers up possibly the album's most Pop like hooks, harmony voices painting a joyous sound to bleak lyrics while the drums pop and shatter across the whole delight, "Gets You Everytime" oddly reminds me of the chord progression in Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son", while sounding nothing remotely like it. Instead this is an intentionally unsettling mix of weaving bass, grating guitar and remote vocal, creating a captivating set of images that the mind can't quite decide whether to call beautiful or disturbed. Either way, you want to relive it over and over to weigh the balance.

And that's the real beauty here, whether through the straight on rush and patient relaxed passage mix of "How Goes The War", the atmospheric and off kilter, yet melodic "Satellite", there's simply no doubting the skill and craft behind Disconnect, nor the engaging nature of the jagged yet inviting songs it contains. Nor that you'll want to revisit them again regularly.

is a departure for John Wesley, yet it is also evolution, for while there's little resemblance to his early solo work, I'd be very surprised if fans old and new don't find much to delight in here. In the end Disconnect combines song writing, performance and lyrical strength superbly, making for one of the best albums of the year so far.

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