"Exchange" (DemixVox; 2008)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

The term “progressive music” tends to set people’s mindsets pointed directly at complex arrangements and overly-indulgent exhibitionism. However, progressive music can take on so many different textures and styles – Emily Bezar’s “Exchange” is no exception. With “Exchange” a music lover will get to hear what a great vocalist with exceptional songwriting skills.

The critical element of “Exchange” is Emily Bezar’s voice. Often compared to Kate Bush and Jane Siberry; I can vouch for the Kate Bush comparison. I hear some of Peter Gabriel’s avant garde vocal stylings as well.  Restraint seems to be the order of the day for Ms. Bezar – all the better to emphasize her voice when she really steps out and uses her voice at the forefront of the songs’ proceedings.

The music of “Exchange” plays out like a mellow Steely Dan albeit with filters set to jazz and classical settings. The songs flirt with pop structures and rock'n'roll dramatics, but no one would ever confuse it with pop and/or rock. Bezar herself is a conservatory trained pianist and her work with keyboards lends an otherworldly soundscape for her voice to dance around. The prevalent use of horns is the most obvious clue that “Exchange” is more like jazz than anything else. The long song structures are the most obvious comparison to progressive rock – and in the same fashion the length of the songs are designed to maximize the variation in delivery of a certain theme and to fully utilize the evolution of a melody.

“Exchange” shows how progressive music doesn’t necessarily mean complex arrangements and overly-indulgent exhibitionism. While Emily Bezar cannot be considered rock or metal she certainly can and will stand tall along rightfully to the great vocalists of this era.

“Exchange” was produced by Emily Bezar and recorded/mixed by Justin Phelps.

Emily Bezar’s fellow musicians on “Exchange” are Dan Feiszil on bass, Mark Bernfield on drums, Michael Ross on guitar, Phillip Greenlief on saxophones, Chris Grady on trumpet, Jen Baker on trombone, Alan Lin on violin, and Beth Vendervennet on cello.

For more information visit http://www.emilybezar.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2008 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 15 Apr 2024 14:51:33 -0400.