The 'story' of Story of a Life goes all the way back to 1997, when Athens, Georgia musicians Sean Tonar (guitar) and Brian 'Thor' Coutts (drums) met and decided to form a band. After various line-up incarnations and some recording, the members of Story of a Life drifted apart, formed other groups, and didn't meet up again until 2009 when Thor happened to find Sean online and the band once again were a working unit. Enter bassist Stephen Cox and keyboard player Bill Graham for the brand new version of Story of a Life, and we have here their debut CD.
Sort of a hybrid of jazz-fusion, progressive rock, funk, and jam, Story of a Life fill their instrumental tunes with plenty of melody, tasty chops, and atmosphere. "Anything" reminds a bit of Happy the Man or Camel, with tranquil keyboard tapestries, airy rhythms, and liquid guitar lines, while "Globetrekker" takes a more direct fusion approach with some fiery grooves and lots of lean soloing. In fact, '70s fusion lovers will certainly gravitate towards the sumptuous sounds of "Continental Blue", as Graham tosses in some daring Hancock/Corea styled synth passages over layers of tight, Latin funk grooves. Tonar's guitar responds with melodic precision, the whole band really firing on all cylinders and creating a wonderful tune here. "Lucid Dream" slows things down a bit, as dreamy atmosphere creeps in thanks to some alluring keyboard textures and intoxicating rhythms, with Tonar's guitar runs owing to the greats Wes Montgomery, George Benson, and Lee Ritenour. The song eventually builds to a more rumbling, upbeat finale, like a head-on collision of Return to Forever, Yes, and Camel. On "Travellin' Light", Tonar blends acoustic & electric guitar patterns over Graham's majestic electric piano and intoxicating rhythms from Cox & Thor, a great mixing of jazz-fusion & prog influences. Listen and you'll hear some Gentle Giant, Happy the Man, Weather Report, Brand X, Yes, Camel...well, you get the picture.
If you have a soft spot for instrumental prog/jazz-fusion with plenty of nods to the greats of the '70s, then you'll certainly need to get your hands on this one. The CD was mixed by Neil Kernon, who has worked with practically everyone under the sun over the years, and I don't think I need to tell you it sounds fantastic. This one comes out in September 2014, so mark it on your calendars.
3) Continental Blue
4) Lucid Dream
5) Travellin' Light