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The Flying Caravan: I Just Wanna Break Even

The Flying Caravan is a progressive rock output from Alicante (Spain), and the brainchild of guitarist Antonio Valiente. I Just Wanna Break Even is the debut double album from the band, which at the time of the recording was comprised of Antonio himself on guitars, Pedro Molina on bass, Juan Sánchez on keyboards, Izaga Plata on vocals, and Lluís Mas on drums and percussion. After its release, the band has suffered some recent lineup changes and new singer Julia Novecento has replaced Plata, and José Hernández has taken Sánchez’s place on keyboards, a new lineup that’s allegedly already working on new material.

The band cites its influences on the classic prog rock scene, and legends such as Camel, Pink Floyd, Kansas, among others, are mentioned… however, to me they sound like the Mediterranean female-fronted version of Big Big Train, with a lot of light in their sound and lush arrangements, but in this case with songs that at times feel (and are) longer than they should be.

From the first note on “Get Real” is evident the great taste in music and imminent need to achieve memorable compositions, an ambition that becomes obvious considering the debut is almost 100 minutes long, quite a statement from a band that’s barely presenting themselves to the music world. Valiente’s guitar tonality is very varied throughout the album, at times it sounds like Jerry Garcia or Mark Knopfler, and at others like Roine Stolt, the keyboards are always a highlight and rhythmic section groovy and steady… there’s no weak link per se, however I’m not very fond of the vocals, Izaga isn’t a bad vocalist at all, is just that her style doesn’t fit the music that well, her performance could be better appreciated fronting pop bands such as Amaral, La Oreja de Van Gogh , Ella Baila Sola, etc.…

“Flying Caravan” is as happy and sweet as progressive pop music can be, positive and uplifting, with great drumming by Lluís and high pitch keyboards that remind me a lot of the Norwegian band Moon Safari, a song that flawlessly melts into the Floydian intro of “Upstream to Manonash”, a more melancholic and slow-builder tune that portrays the band acting and performing as a team. “Love’s Labour Mislaid” is another mellow ballad-like song that acts as proof of the pop-oriented vocal style by Plata, perhaps her best performance on the album, the keyboards are very good as well, and the percussion outstanding… Lluís Mas reminds me a lot of groovy drummers like D’Virgilio, or even the laid-back version of Gavin Harrison.

My favorite song is the smartly titled “The Bumpy Road to Knowledge”, sixteen plus minutes of good music where Valiente and his mates’ showoff of their musical influences and abilities. I really like the guitar work and the accompanying flute, and the sax solo is also of high quality, courtesy of guest musician Manuel Salido, a solo that takes the song into the best prog-like moments of the album with more great guitars and flute, really beautiful song, both in its musical and lyrical content… and this is how I would have ended the album… but I’m not Valiente, and I don’t drive The Flying Caravan… so that takes us to the 36 minute seven-part suite “A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups”. Early pastoral Genesis meets The Flower Kings, symphonic and jazzy, mostly bright sounding but with its dramatic moments as well, with better transitions than others from part to part, and with its peaks in the instrumental segments… I really like half of it, but the other half I find kind of predictable and unnecessarily stretched. The album is a good starting point for the band, and I hope the recent lineup changes will help polish their sound and elevate the songwriting. Cheers.

Track list:

  1. Get Real (7:43)
  2. Flying Caravan (6:49)
  3. Upstream to Manonash (7:20)
  4. Love’s Labour Mislaid (6:39)
  5. The Bumpy Road to Knowledge (16:45)
  6. A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups (36:01)
  7. The Bumpy Road to Knowledge (Alt. Version) (16:55)

Added: February 24th 2023
Reviewer: Jose Antonio Marmol
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 169
Language: english

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