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Red Jasper - The Great and Secret Show CD (album) cover

THE GREAT AND SECRET SHOW

Red Jasper

 

Prog Folk

3.70 | 27 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars New for 2015 we have yet another tale of a band's lead singer leaving and the drummer stepping forward to handle those duties as easily as if he had been secretly practicing all those years...wait, could it be? One could certainly argue that the 18 years that have passed since the release of "Anagramary" afforded RED JASPER sufficient interval to find a replacement, but they opted to promote from within, always a good strategy for a non profit.

David Clifford's deep and lightly theatrical voice is not exactly a dead ringer for the departed Davey Dodds, but it's close enough that, when blended with the acoustic guitars and neo prog backing for which this band is known, leads to the correct guess well within the bounds of 20 questions. Already on "Anagramary", the band had eschewed its more overt English folk flavor and was sounding like MARILLION meets latter day TULL, even if the cover art conjures up the band, and country's, now distant past. "The Great and Secret Show" is a logical extension of that late 1990s effort, and indeed, apart from the sterling more hard rock production, sounds like it could have come hot on the heels of its predecessor.

While the band continues to sound one misstep away from faceless neo prog, their lyrical and performance oriented panache and their subtle insistence on melodic development continue to overachieve within the limited confines of the sub genre. Robin Harrison's lead and rhythm guitars are heavy at times but always with purpose, while Lloyd George's mellotronic strings can sound divine even when they are doing little more than mood setting. "An Hour of Time" exemplifies these favorable qualities while "Bonds Beyond Reason" works brilliantly as a menacing duet between Clifford and Soheila Clifford (perhaps relation?) , with hard riffs by Harrison as the jealous third wheel, and reminds me of Quebec's ELIPHASZ.

This edition of RED JASPER does not seem to have an Achilles' heel, and you might in fact find 2 other random tracks to be your favorites here. While the more folk oriented among us might continue to lament the loss of one of the few such proponents left in neo prog, RED JASPER seems intent on having us keep this great secret from everyone including ourselves. Magic!

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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