Ray Wilson – Song for a Friend (2016)

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Former Genesis frontman Ray Wilson was already forged a unique place in progressive rock history. The Poland-based singer stepped in the big shoes of Phil Collins after Collins decided to make his solo career his full time job. Though Wilson’s tenure with the band was brief, his work on the criminally overlooked Genesis album Calling All Stations and the subsequent European tour proved Wilson’s craftsmanship and meddle.

Ray Wilson’s new release, Songs for a Friend, is dedicated to his close confidant James Lewis who passed away last yeaar. Due on June 3, 2016, it shows a different, and decidedly personal side to Wilson. Here, he forgoes the production trappings of progressive rock while retaining the illustrative lyrical foundation. Wilson has stated the album is meant to encapsulate the journey of life.

“Old Book on The Shelf,” the opening track, quietly paints the picture of self-reflection and a man slowly reexamines his life and fights for self-acceptance. The theme is continued in “Over My Dead Body.” Lyrically poignant, the song finds a protagonist confronting demons of the past even as he tries to move on into the future. Wilson’s vocals are strong, yet sensitive, as he freely works his wide range. Former Stiltskin bandmate, Uwe Metzler’s acoustic and slide guitar flow perfectly with the piano of Kool Lyczek over the foundation provided by drummer Nir Z and Lawrie McMillian on bass.

“How Long is Too Long” offers Ray Wilson an opportunity to confront the familiar obstacles presented by failure and success. In the song, the singer engages in the search for a greater meaning which makes the pain worth enduring. Wilson employs a more electric backing for this track to effectively help build the tension.

The album closes with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “High Hopes,” building on the thematic scene Wilson has established with writing collaborator Uwe Metzler. Album mixer Yogi Lang fashions an acoustic wall of sound which enhances the song’s lyrical base. Building on that foundation, Wilson’s voice floats across the theme of loss, searching for a transformation from one’s current state to a new and higher plane.

Rock music doesn’t get more effective at evoking that transformative power than Ray Wilson’s Song for a Friend.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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