I’m always searching the net and my favourite sites for new music. And as you may already know, finding new music is easy – it seems to come out constantly and there is a lot of it. But finding music that really does it for you – that’s a different kettle of fish.
I subscribe also to a real magazine made of paper – a terrific quarterly called Progression. And in the latest issue was a review of a Progressive Rock album entirely performed by a one-woman band named Cailyn Lloyd from Wisconsin. She’s a dentist and runs a recording studio and chases tornados – in her spare time!! Reading further, however, really did it: her new CD features her take on three classical pieces plus one of her own. And the first piece on the disc happens to be my favourite piece of music of all time – Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis”. I had to hear this, so I went to her website and ordered the disc. When I got it I put it on with, I have to admit, some dread as this is, after all, my numero uno desert song.
I needn’t have worried. This is an amazing CD, from start to finish, and whether you are into Classical music or not, the music she has chosen, as well as her own piece, is beautifully played, with electric Rock instruments (guitars, keys, bass and drums) replacing the full orchestrations, and adding more Rock power to the proceedings. Guitar appears to be her main instrument and she can play – emotional sustaining notes like David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) and Andy Latimer (Camel), speed-playing like Jeff Beck. Her keyboard interplay with her guitar, the steady and powerful bass lines and her heavy drumming sounds like a four piece, she is that good on all instruments.
Her version of Fantasia is true to the original score, which makes it amazing in two ways. One, it captures the entire RVW piece in all its glory without making it “too modern”. The other is to hear how important Fantasia is to the birth of modern Rock music. I say there may not have been ELP, or Floyd, or Camel, or Yes or Genesis or King Crimson without Ralph Vaughan Williams and this one piece of nearly 14 minutes that he wrote in, get ready, 1910!!! I could go on how important I believe it to be, but I don’t want to take away from this review – it is about Cailyn and her amazing skills and musicianship.
Track two is “Largo”, the beautiful and dense second movement of Dvorak’s New World Symphony. Another stirring tour de force in the annals of Classical music, her interpretation is at once technically brilliant but also delicate, as the movement is an emotional roller coaster of soft and loud, fast and slow. Here, she takes liberties and shows her bluesier chops with a leaning toward Jeff Beck in places. Her fluid speed will have you air-guitaring for sure. And her drums – you’d think that she hired Mike Portnoy to play!
Track three is Barber’s Adagio for Strings, probably one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever. It was used as the recurring theme on the soundtrack for Oliver Stone’s Platoon and many other soundtracks. The keyboards have to be the dominant instrument here, with its sweeping themes (I suspect Barber owed a nod to RVW too). But her slow guitar solos over top are things of beauty. (See video below.)
Track four is her own composition, Nocturne. It is similar to “Of a Lifetime”, the opening track of the first self-titled Journey album (a major heavy rock/psychedelic classic that should be heard – not the top 40 Journey for sure). It has a slow build-up and searing guitar with plenty of tension.
So I can’t recommend Cailyn’s CD enough, especially if you like longish pieces with plenty of big, sweeping arrangements, power guitar and instrumental music. She is a talent that I hope will reach a lot more ears.
Release Date: July 30, 2012