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Workman, Lyle: Uncommon Measures

A hugely successful composer of film music, a session musician and side-man in some huge outfits and a solo artist in his own right, Lyle Workman is something of a musical chameleon. Just let a CV that includes Sting, Beck, Michael Bublé, Ziggy Marley, and Sarah McLachlan and the music for the films Superbad, and The 40 Year Old Virgin sink in and you’ll quickly realise that not only is this guitarist (and much else) in high demand - he’s also received praise from the likes of Steve Vai and Steve Lukather - but he’s also super-talented. Somehow Workman has found time to nurture three solo albums into being but it’s been over a decade since the musical voice we heard last came from the man himself, so possibly that Uncommon Measures just about squeezes every aspect of Workman’s field of vision into it should be completely expected.

Hence, what Uncommon Measures becomes is a full throttle adventure of styles and approaches that still feels expertly corralled into a cohesive vision. Fusion, classical, rock, prog, jazz and much else all touched on not just from track to track but also within each and every composition on show. The man himself is a consummate guitarist but surrounding himself with the likes of drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Matt Chamberlain, bassist Tim Lefebvre and pedal steel wizard Greg Leisz, as well as a hand-picked 63 piece orchestra recorded at London’s Abbey Road, no less, ensures that this is no one man fret-fest. That said, many of the pieces feature all manner of picking, solos and mathematical like note configurations from Workman’s fingers. On occasion, the results can feel a little like ‘here comes the flashy part’, something also true of occasional drum solo sections where the musical backing is simply there for continuity, but in general you’re more interested in lifting your jaw off the floor than you are in looking for flaws.

Given the conglomeration of styles that Workman employs outside of this setting, the grand, orchestral, symphonic undercurrents that glue this entire album together often feel very film-score in style and with an excellent mix of vintage and cutting edge production values from (you guessed it) Workman himself, I’d suggest that the golden era of 70s US TV music is also a touching point for many of the pieces. Most of the results are full on and uncompromising, while still thoroughly ensconced in melody. However that one or two more tender moments, such as the flowing “Arc Of Life” and “Labyrinth Of Love” offer sumptuous string led relief also illustrates the care that’s been taken to ensure this album isn’t just impressive but that it also flows as it tells its stories.

The often full on nature of the likes of “Imaginary World” or “North Star”, and the sheer diversity brought together under one banner on this album, possibly means that it’s not something I’d pull from the shelves often. However, don’t think that lessens the clout of what is a seriously impactful and inspiring collection of compositions, hence, rest assured that Uncommon Measures is uncommonly good.

Track Listing
1. North Star
2. All The Colours Of The World
3. Noble Savage
4. Arc Of Life
5. Imaginary World
6. Unsung Hero
7. Labyrinth Of Love
8. Rise And Shine
9. Our Friendship

Added: March 19th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Lyle Workman @ facebook
Hits: 179
Language: english

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