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Ajalon: This Good Place

Did this album come as a total surprise. I was unfamiliar with the music of Ajalon until This Good Place made its way to my stereo, and what a wonderful album it is. Ajalon is a three piece outfit hailing from Washington State and consists of Wil Henderson (vocals), Randy George (guitar, keyboards, bass, bodhran) and Dan Lile (drums, percussion). This is melodic progressive rock at its absolute finest.

The band began in 1994 and This Good Place is their third release. Ajalon are known for Christian based lyrical themes but on this album they only hint at their spiritual past, preferring to stay grounded with Earthly themes such as the plight of the homeless, the mundane existence of an ordinary life and the cold harsh reality of life in the city. Thoughtful to be sure, but not overtly religious so those listeners who have a problem with non-secular themes should not be bothered here.

I have not heard their previous albums so I really did not know what to expect when I put this into my CD player. The music is so melodic the melodies will stick in your head long after the music is finished playing. The musicianship is top notch and there are some great keyboard and guitar solos but this is not music that is overly pretentious or used only as a vehicle to show off their musical chops. Keyboards are vital to the band's sound and are utilized to create lush background sound-scapes or blistering solos that put a capital P in progressive.

Often the vocals in progressive music are a major bone of contention, but Ajalon have a fine singer in Wil Henderson. He has a pleasing, smooth voice with a good range and never hits a wrong note delivering beautiful background harmonies and melodic lead passages.

There are seven songs with not a weak one in the bunch. The album begins with the mid-tempo rock of "Love is a Dream", a somewhat accessible number that reminds me of the Alan Parsons Project, especially the vocal harmonies. The poignant "Not Man" is another rock gem having a Spock's Beard feel and some nice melodic lead guitar. The progressive "Abstract Malady" includes some wonderful bass and has an element of fusion, especially the guitar. The excellent "Lullaby of Bedlam" kicks it up a notch with stellar drum fills and ripping bass lines. The organ solo is pretty good too.

One of album's highlights is the epic progressive rock of "Redemption", a three part suite with guest musicians Paul Bielatowicz and Jonathan Sindleman adding fantastic guitar and organ solos respectively. The dreamy atmospheric sections include layered keys and lead guitar played with passion and feeling. Guest vocalist Robyn Dawn does a fine job as she does throughout the CD.

Anyone interested in melodic prog needs to hear this CD. Simply put, one of the finest progressive rock albums released in 2009. Outstanding!

Track Listing:
1. Love is a Dream
2. Nickels and Dimes, Marbles and Stones
3. Not Man
4. Abstract Malady
5. Lullaby of Bedlam
6. Redemption
7. This Good Place

Added: December 9th 2009
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 3728
Language: english

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