LaBrie, James - Elements of persuasion 3/5
9. Slightly out of reach
11. In too deep
James LaBrie, of course, is the singer of progressive supergroup Dream Theater. He has done a couple of pseudo solo CDs under the Mullmuzzler name. Unlike those 2 CDs on which he worked with several songwriters including members of Shadow Gallery, Trent Gardner of Magellan and Matt Guillory of Daliís Dilemma, on this CD the songwriting credits are shared almost exclusively with Guillory which has resulted in a more consistent CD.
As Guillory is a keyboardist, there is a noticeable keyboard presence on this CD. This ranges from keyboard interludes to more atmospheric keyboards in the background. LaBrie has also found a good, young lead guitarist named Marco Sfogli who is able to play the full range, from crunchy riffs to melodic leads. Of course, the star here is LaBrie who sounds exactly like he does with Dream Theater; powerful, emotional and throaty at times. Rarely, if ever, does he go for high notes like he does at times with Dream Theater. The songs are mostly good. There is a samey feel about the songs which is both good and bad; it makes the CD feel like a cohesive CD as opposed to a collection of songs. However all the tracks also blend together to the point of making it difficult to distinguish them from each other. In addition to the standard vocals, there are fairly frequent vocal effects used to alter LaBrieís voice which is typically used well. The vocal melodies are reminiscent of Dream Theaterís most recent CD, 'Train of thought', although the melodies on this CD are a little less melodic than those on 'Train of thought'.
This is a very good CD, especially as itís mostly a side project from LaBrieís very active main group. The playing is very good, the songwriting is both good and consistent and the CD sounds like it had LaBrieís full attention. The songwriting isnít good enough to live up to the lofty standards of Dream Theater, but the intent here wasnít to challenge the quality of that band. LaBrie has accomplished what he must have been trying for, and that is to make a good solo CD that sounds like it wasnít a side project or a time filler in between Dream Theater CDs.
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