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Sherwood, Billy: Citizen

Billy Sherwood is the man with the unenviable task of replacing original founding Yes Chris Squire before his untimely death in June 2015 but here we find ourselves confronted by his latest solo effort which is a concept album! No real shock there, the concept being "a lost soul reincarnated into various periods of history, he is the citizen..." The songs describe the individual experiences through the eyes of various citizens: a conscript legionnaire in the Roman Army at the end of the Empire, a trench runner in WW1, A friend to Galileo, as he discovers the Earth is not flat. Then there's a distraught Wall Street worker stepping out onto the ledge... a casualty of the great depression, an assistant to Charles Darwin as he discovers his Theory and a member of the tribe during the trail of tears.

Sherwood says: "For me the most special track on the record is the title track "The Citizen," which sets the stage for the concept behind it all, on this track is the last recording of Chris Squire and he's larger than life on it! I recorded him not too long ago in a Holiday Inn when I went to visit with him just before he fell ill. Tony Kaye is playing hammond and keys on the track and sounds great as always!!! There are many sonic treats in the production and if you put yourself in the mind of the citizen... it's quite a journey !" indeed it is, it's a tremendous way to start this (or for that matter, any album) as it oozes class and quality which is apparent throughout the record. Take at the credits below and I am sure it would take a superhuman attempt to make a poor album given the talent involved and this is in no way poor.

The virtuosic intricacy that one would expect given the musicians involved is present and correct but arguably it is the slightly more commercial tracks such as splendid "Age Of The Atom" which pack the most punch. Geoff Downes' keyboards are mightily prominent on this track making it a real treat. It's also a treat to hear Colin Moulding, erstwhile member of wacky Brit popsters XTC take the vocal duties on "Just Galileo And Me". At times Sherwood himself sounds (to my ears at least) like Fish, and tonally the album is reminiscent of some of John Wetton's solo material which makes it alright by me!

Track Listing:
1: The Citizen
Billy Sherwood Vocals / Guitars / Drums
Chris Squire Bass
Tony Kaye Keyboards & Hammond Organ
2: Man & The Machine
Billy Sherwood Vocals / Keyboards / Bass / Drums
Steve Hackett Guitar
3: Just Galileo And Me
Colin Moulding Lead Vocals
Billy Sherwood Backing Vocals / Keyboards / Guitars / Harmonica / Bass / Drums
4: No Man's Land
Billy Sherwood Vocals / Keyboards / Bass / Drums
Steve Morse Guitar
5: The Great Depression
Billy Sherwood Vocals / Guitars / Bass / Drums
Rick Wakeman Keyboards & Grand Piano
6: Empire
Alan Parsons Lead & Backing Vocals
Jerry Goodman Violins
Billy Sherwood Backing Vocals / Keyboards / Guitars / Bass / Drums
7: Age of The Atom
Billy Sherwood Vocals / Guitars / Bass / Drums
Geoff Downes Keyboards
8: Trail Of Tears
Billy Sherwood Vocals / Guitars / Bass / Drums
Patrick Moraz Keyboards
9: Escape Velocity
Billy Sherwood Vocals / Guitars / Bass / Drums
Jordan Rudess Keyboards
10: A Theory All it's Own
Billy Sherwood Vocals / Keyboards / Bass / Drums
John Wesley Guitar
11: Written In The Centuries
Jon Davison Lead Vocals
Billy Sherwood Backing Vocals / Keyboards / Guitars / Bass / Drums

Added: February 15th 2016
Reviewer: Simon Bray
Related Link: Artist Facebook Page
Hits: 1856
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Sherwood, Billy: Citizen
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-02-15 10:05:38
My Score:

Say what you will about Billy Sherwood, he has to be one of the hardest working musicians on the planet. From his extensive forays in Yes, other projects like Conspiracy (with the late great Chris Squire), Circa, The Prog Collective and an extensive solo career, his body of work is quite impressive. Citizen is his latest solo album and at almost seventy minutes long there is a lot of music to absorb. This time around Sherwood has surrounded himself with some special musicians including Tony Kaye, Chris Squire, Steve Hackett, Colin Moulding, Steve Morse, Rick Wakeman, Alan Parsons, Jon Davison, Jordan Rudess, John Wesley, Geoff Downes and Patrick Moraz. An impressive list to say the least.

The first thing that needs to be said is Citizen must mean a great deal to Sherwood as it features the last track Chris Squire played on before his untimely passing. Bittersweet doesn't even begin to tell the story and speaking of stories this is a concept album about a person (the Citizen) living throughout Earth's past, experiencing some of humanities great (and not so great) moments in time including the Great Depression, WWI, the life of Galileo Galilei, the invention of the atom bomb, the fall of the Roman Empire and much more. It's a cool concept that doesn't get bogged down under its own weight.

The music is classic Sherwood proggy flavoured pop and rock with excellent musicianship and Sherwood's unmistakably melodic lead vocals. "The Citizen" sets up the storyline and is laden with moody guitar and keys, Sherwood's signature bass and an excellent melody. The industrial revolution is the topic in "Man & The Machine" featuring swirling keyboards and some riveting lead work from Hackett. "Just Galileo and Me" features the sublime vocals of Colin Moulding (XTC) and pretty acoustic guitars. This one is more mellow and dreamy with a folky pop influence. Another excellent track is "The Great Depression" where Rick Wakeman's lovely grand piano and tasteful orchestrations are focal points. Sherwood's combination of acoustic and electric guitar is well conceived and provides an integral framework to the song's moody tones.

With not one filler song on the disc, Sherwood and his friends have made an outstanding album with Citizen. It may not be a masterpiece of complexity but his attention to sonic detail, outstanding melodies and forays into pop flavoured music should provide fodder for all fans of intelligent rock music.

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