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Dear Hunter, The: The Meaning Of, And All Things Regarding Mrs Leading

From an album title like Act II : The Meaning Of, And All Things Regarding Mrs Leading, and from its dramatic orchestral overture, you know you're going to be taken on an interesting ride.

After the intro the album drops into straightforward third wave progressive rock with expressive, dramatic tones. There isn't much in the way of musicianship - there are no blistering solos and it isn't particularly technical - but it's the imaginative, restlessly changing song structures that give Mrs Leading its progressive character, and will elevate this record into many top-20-of-2007 lists. Mediocre vocals are delivered in the upper-mid registers and are well controlled, but without a particularly attractive timbre. Yet along with the imaginative songwriting, the melodies, the harmonies and the carefully constructed counterpoints and the sometimes odd chord progressions, and particularly the the angst and the intense expression Casey Crescenzo wrings from his vocals, Mrs Leading is one of the more impressive performances of the year.

The garden-variety rock lineup is bolstered by a variety of instruments that add important textures to compositions that are already well layered. Listen for the violin, cello, French horn, glockenspiel, timpani, tubular bells, banjo, harp, trumpet - and particularly, the liberal use of simple but elegant piano lines. The style is hard-edged prog, but benefits from inserts of jazz, classical, punk and ragtime.

The Dear Hunter was started as the side project of multi-instrumentalist Casey Crescenzo, guitarist, vocalist, and effects man for Bostonian act The Receiving End Of Sirens. Their sophomore release is clearly a concept piece, and is a follow-up to to Act I: The Lake South, The River North - and as the 'Act II' indicates, it's a continuation of the debut EP's storyline. These songs tell the story of the narrator - "The Dear Hunter" - and in that sense, the band's own identity is an inextricable part of the story line - rather like Coheed and Cambria, or the Canada's House Of Not. If fact - you could think of this as a more melodic, overtly progressive, less heavy version of Coheed & Cambira or The Mars Volta. The album's concept revolves around a boy whose lust leads him to a house of ill repute, where he is seduced by Mrs Leading - and the music describes the loss of innocence at the expense of disillusionment and hate. There's strong meaning and emotion in the songs, yet the lyrics are a bit esoteric.

Each song is refreshingly different from its predecessor, and each section morphs into the next with well-managed tempo changes that effortlessly keep your attention. Three-part two-song "The Bitter Suite" is an epic that contains most of the important elements of progressive rock operas: Tempo shifts that run from crescendo to diminuendo, and sections that range from head-nodding grooves to spacey interludes to Floydian pop-rock - yet remains cohesive through its 15 minutes. Mrs Leading has a bit of everything - from the chaos in "Dear Mrs Leading" to the minimalism in "Vital Vessals Vindicate" to the lilting choruses in "The Oracles On The Delphi Express." and the subtly dark drama that develops into pure anger in "The Church and The Dime".

Definitely one of the finds of the year.


Track Listing:
1. The Death and the Berth
2. The Procession
3. The Lake and the River
4. The Oracles on the Delphi Express
5. The Church and The Dime
6. The Bitter Suite 1 and 2: Meeting Ms. Leading and Through the Dime
7. The Bitter Suite 3: Embrace
8. Smiling Swine
9. Evicted
10.Blood of the Rose
11.Red Hands
12.Where the Road Parts
13.Dear Ms. Leading
14.Black Sandy Beaches
15.Vital Vessals Vindicate

Added: August 18th 2007
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: The Band's Website
Hits: 2992
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Dear Hunter, The: The Meaning Of, And All Things Regarding Mrs Leading
Posted by Jordan Blum on 2010-09-09 21:19:40
My Score:

Hey I just discovered these albums within the last week (and I got an interview with Casey coming up). They're fantastic albums and I can't wait for Act IV. I think I might like Act I the most though.

Dear Hunter, The: The Meaning Of, And All Things Regarding Mrs Leading
Posted by Ed Lohrer e3_prog on 2008-02-19 11:52:53
My Score:

Excellent review Duncan,
for an excellent album.
This is in my top ten list of 2007.

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