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Salem Hill: Mimi's Magic Moment

The seventh studio album from Salem Hill, Mimi's Magic Moment, is a break from the standard concept piece that we have come to expect from this progressive rock band. Instead, Mimi's Magic Moment is made up of 4 epic tracks, each one in itself a mini concept piece. Instrumentally and vocally speaking, this one might be Salem Hill's most polished effort, as it is filled with moments of lush grandeur as well as powerful sophistication. These guys don't try to hit you over the head with exploits that prove how well they can play-sure they can, but the band weaves such a myriad of ethereal and arresting sounds on Mimi's Magic Moment that shows equally their influences as it does the evolution of their own growth as a band.

Having guests like David Ragsdale on violin and Neal Morese on vocals on the wonderful opener "The Joy Gem" certainly helps kick this thing off on a high note. Salem Hill always have a rich sound as far as the vocals go, and with the addition of Morse on this one really kicks things up a notch. Ragsdale's violin weaves intricate lines around the guitars and keyboards from Michael Dearing and Carl Groves, and you will be happy to note that there are plenty of Hammond, Mellotron, electric and acoustic piano, and Moog sounds thoughout this and every piece on the album. "All Fall Down" is a lovely acoustic piece that seems to tell the tale of a pop singer whose days in the spotlight have come and gone. Again, the dense vocal melodies of the band are in full force here, and add a nice richness to the piece. During the songs middle break there is a inspired guitar/flute/organ interplay that reminded me of classic Jethro Tull or Focus.

On "Stolen By Ghosts", the band goes for the symphonic route, with plenty of keys as well as Ragsdale's soaring violin. Hints of vintage era Kansas as well as Yes can be heard on this number, a song that also has deep lyrics that will really make you think. The tight grooves from drummer Kevin Thomas and bassist Patrick Henry are locked in while Groves, Dearing and Ragsdale duel with some fierce solos. King Crimson meets Yes on the adventurous "The Future Me", a song highlighted by intricate guitar patterns, fluid bass melodies, and plenty of synth & organ. This one not only knocks you on your ass not only from a musical chops standpoint, but it's also a breathtakingly beautiful piece at the same time.

Depending on your preferences, Mimi's Magic Moment just might be the crowning achievement from Salem Hill. In a discography that is already filled with strong releases, this one easily rises to the top in my opinion and shows just how far this hard working band has come.

Track Listing
1) The Joy Gem
2) All Fall Down
3) Stolen By Ghosts
4) The Future Me

Added: December 5th 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Salem Hill Website
Hits: 5825
Language: english

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Salem Hill: Mimi's Magic Moment
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-12-05 15:26:24
My Score:

Neal Morse is everywhere these days. Not only has he recently released his fifth solo album, ?, but he's also appeared on the latest CDs by Ajalon, Roine Stolt and now Salem Hill. Yet his presence on the 15-minute "The Joy Gem" is relatively understated (at least by Neal Morse standards), and these American progressive-rock veterans probably didn't need that modern-day Renaissance man to help make Mimi's Magic Moment one of Salem Hill's strongest albums.

Epic in scope, this four-track disc eschews the all-encompassing conceptual ideas the band has adhered to for the last several albums. Instead, the quartet challenged itself to create complex story songs that begin and complete a miniature concept within the confines of a single piece. The results ranging from seven minutes in length to almost 22 minutes incorporate playful children singing ("All Fall Down"), symphonic melancholy ("Stolen By Ghosts") and unexpected cynicism with Yes-like arrangements ("The Future Me"). To be honest, "The Joy Gem" sounds more like a Morse solo piece, especially with violin courtesy of ex-Kansas man David Ragsdale, than a Salem Hill song. But that's the beauty of this album. While other Salem Hill records, including the much-revered Be, tended to lack diversity, that's not the case with Mimi's Magic Moment, where acoustic excursions lead to solemn piano passages and jagged synths collide with smooth strings. Traditionally rich and distinct vocals all band members share singing duties along with a renewed focus on songwriting make this one of Salem Hill's strongest releases and a fine place to start for newcomers. Magic moment, indeed.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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