BILLY SHERWOOD - Citizen (Review)

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Produced By: 
Billy Sherwood
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Friday, November 6, 2015
Progster Billy Sherwood has a decades long resume longer as a producer than a recording artist, but on this self-penned new concept album, he well and truly takes center stage.
As the current bass player in Yes (handpicked by original founding member Chris Squire before his untimely death), he is obviously operating in an environment favorable to experimentation and complex musicianship.
Not to mention calling up a long list of high profile friends such as Chris Squire (his final bass performance), Tony Kaye, Steve Hackett, Geoff Downes, Colin Moulding, Steve Morse, Jerry Goodman, Alan Parsons, Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz, Jon Davison, Jordan Rudess and John Wesley.
Despite all the guests, Billy is front and center for most of this album, taking over all instrumental duties several times. He also handles vocals on all but three tracks.
This is a very specific album. It has headline appeal to progressive/synth pop fans, but only byline appeal to others. The premise is just as complex as the music – the songs describe “the individual experiences through his own eyes: a conscript legionnaire in the Roman Army at the end of the Empire. A trench runner in WW1. A friend to Galileo, as he discovers the Earth is not flat. A distraught Wall Street man stepping out onto the ledge... a casualty of the great depression. Assistant to Charles Darwin as he discovers his Theory. A member of the tribe during the trail of tears. Reborn as Nostradamus... written in the Centuries.”
When the opening track is an orchestrated 6 minute mostly instrumental number, you know immediately what kind of record is happening here.
There are some almost AOR moments such as the catchy Man & The Machine; the Colin Moulding sung Just Galileo And Me; A Theory All Its Own has a certain Neal Schon solo guitar feel to it and Yes’ Jon Davison sings the faster moving closing track Written In The CenturiesIn around those tracks it’s pretty slow going and definitely not for anyone with ADD. 70 minutes of mostly slow moving, long panoramic songs in the vein of Peter Gabriel and Marillion, with hints of Yes and Alan Parsons Project.

I’m convinced the album has been remixed before getting pressed, as my original promo audio was a sonic mess. I’m pleased to say this sounds a lot better and while it is still somewhat treble-heavy, it suits the ambience of the material.
Not a record for the majority I would think, but for the prog fans out there (of which there are many), this album certainly is creative and intelligent enough to warrant thorough investigation.