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ESP Project: The Rising

The continual evolution of ESP Project continues with album number three, The Rising. The lynchpin of this symphonic prog collective is Tony Lowe and for this latest premonition he has gathered drummer Greg Pringle, bassist Pete Clark and singer Damien Child around him to form a tight four-piece outfit that you’d hope might stay together for the long haul. Not that the altering line-ups stopped either of the Invisible Din or 22 Layers Of Sunlight from being premier slices of shimmering, swooping emotions that hit hard and stayed long.

The Rising continues that journey, Child, who has experience of performing on national TV, radio and West End stages, proving the perfect lyrical and singing partner for Lowe. Bringing a showy edge that doesn’t shy away from his theatrical past you’re immediately left in little doubt that this vocalist could as ably front Saga, Cutting Crew or especially latter era Genesis. In fact that last comparison is possibly most telling, the choice of synth sounds straight out of the 90s Tony Banks playbook and delivered by Lowe in sumptuous style.

That vibe comes across strongest on the thoroughly convincing “Connected” where a commercially aware but still atmospheric meander carries enough heft to feel wholesome and from the heart. With “On Lunar Tides” extending that approach into a darker but still wistful direction the introspectiveness of Fish comes into play, although the vocal deftness of touch and constantly roaming bass line undoubtedly steers the ship through these murky waters. Cleverly, “Flowers In Show” turns about face while injecting both pace and energy at exactly the right juncture. It’s a real pleasure in this age of ‘one song and move on’ that the likes of ESP Project are still crafting well considered albums that flow and engage both through each individual song but also from the mood they create as a cohesive whole.

For anyone who has previously encountered Tony Lowe it will come as no surprise that his own performance, which encompasses all of the guitars and keyboards on this album, is from start to finish, impeccable. Whether through the soaring melancholic guitar of “Stranger In My Skin” or pumping synth/riff playoff that surges into view on a popping beat and booming bass across “A Million Heartbeats”, prepare to be whisked off on a journey that never once allows your attention to wander.

There’s no doubt that the ESP approach may be a little too gloss and glitter over weight and wonder for some but if you don’t mind your symphonic prog coming with a nod, wink and tip of the hat to the 80s, while still sounding spangly and new, then The Rising will without question lift your spirits towards the sky.

Track Listing
1. The Rising
2. Connected
3. On Lunar Tides
4. Flowers in Snow
5. Stranger in my Skin
6. New World Disorder
7. A Million Heartbeats

Added: October 23rd 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: ESP @ bandcamp
Hits: 2059
Language: english

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