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Kayak - Seventeen Award winner

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 28 February 2018, 3:49 AM

Progressive Rock band KAYAK have a career that spans 45 years, Formed in Holland in 1972, they nearly lost the group in 2014 when the two former lead singers announced their departure from the band just before a tour was to commence. But Ton was determined to keep going. After composing the songs, he wanted to start fresh with a new band. “Seventeen” is the result; their newest release is here. The album contains twelve tracks.

“Somebody” is the opening track. It’s a short three minutes with a jovial melody. Ton talked about how important the vocals are in the band, and how you have to be able to connect with them, and I definitely think that is the case. Bart’s vocals are easy on the ears and do not overwhelm the music. His voice is strong in all the ranges presented. “La Peregrina” fulfills the Prog head dreams with an eleven-minute opus. A weeping lead guitar solo leads off the song, with soft piano and keys. Bassist Kristoffer provides some of the melody in the song with his dexterous fret work. Of course, there are some interludes and varied passages along the way, and some of the direction turns grey before the sun returns, as well as some complex chord structures, but the song doesn’t meander and maintains an accessible sound.

“Falling” is a tender little piano and vocal track for the most part, with thoughtful lead guitar parts. It sounds doleful at times yet hopeful at others…a nice contrast in a short little track. “Feathers and Tar” is a riff driven track with liberal use of piano and keys. Vocal harmonies abound and there is definitely a story within the lyrics. Marcel stretches out a bit on the leads and delivers a smoking solo that leaves trails of exhaust in its path. “Walk Through Fire” is the second lengthy track. The song is pretty straightforward at first with chord progressions that connect with the listener emotionally, but changes are on the way. It shifts quickly into a separate melody line with a little more haste, talking about how the world is falling apart. The sound shifts again, which the album is adept at doing in the longer pieces with ease in transition.

“Ripples on the Water” sound like you might imagine from the song title. It is a gentle piece, like a soft wind caressing the water and producing just the slightest of movement on your solitary day alone in nature, reflecting. Andy Latimer's (CAMEL) guitar work is brilliantly supportive of the main melody. Sometimes I hear Shawn Lane in his work, which I don’t believe I have heard in any other guitarists. He has really strong sense of phrasing and feeling. In contrast, “All That I Want” has a big sound out of the gate, in a mid-tempo song high in harmonies, with the simplest of yearnings that are sometimes the hardest to attain. “X Marks the Spot” is perhaps more of a transitional piece; a short two-minute track that ponders some of the questions we all have about life in general. “God on our Side” has a swinging rhythm and do I hear some banjo or perhaps mandolin in the beginning? It has that “big band” type of sound as well.

“Love Sail Away” has a bit of a Celtic type of sound in the opening, with the effect from the stringed instruments. It talks about yearning to sail away “to the edge of time, and leave the world behind.” “Cracks” is another monster, at close to nine minutes. The keys and lead guitar passages work very well together, as does the bass guitar. It has a darker side to it, with liberal use of minor chords, and a positive message to completion. “To An End” is a tender closing song that seems to celebrate the album as a new experience for the band. It must have been challenging to face the loss of the band as previously known, and to muster the courage to forge ahead, but that is the end that Ton and the band worked so hard to attain.

As a Progressive music fan, I suddenly feel quite embarrassed that I have never heard of KAYAK before. I should probably revoke my Prog card as a result. But, on a positive note, this also allows me to listen to the music with a completely objective ear, and not judge it based on past efforts. The album is an ambitious effort that was met head on with thoughtful, intelligent, and insightful songwriting, outstanding musicianship, and a level of balance that I have not heard on an album in this genre in some time. Every instrument and every note sung work in a harmony that results in a pure synergy, and it is also very easy to listen to. I can end just by saying that I am amazed that a band that is this seasoned still has a burning passion for creating new music that is as fresh and meaningful as it is. I sure am a fan now!

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Somebody
2. La Peregrina
3. Falling
4. Feathers and Tar
5. Walk Through Fire
6. Ripples on the Water
7. All that I Want
8. X Marks the Spot
9. God on our Side
10. Love Sail Away
11. Cracks
12. To an End
Ton Scherpenzeel – Keyboards
Bart Schwertmann – Vocals
Marcel Singor – Guitar
Kristoffer Gildenlöw – Bass
Collin Leijenaar – Drums
Record Label: Inside Out Music


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Edited 17 December 2018

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