Where angels fear to tread: star-studded American project unveils its melodious agenda.
Recently, there’s been no deficit of faux-anonymous ensembles whose masterminds’ identities are concealed behind some simple moniker as if to contrast a stellar cast of their accompanists, and it would be difficult to define whether the audience deal with modesty on infantilism on the artist’s part – all of which has nothing to do with music, of course. This, presumably one-off, offering is not about showing off, though, and not about bringing impressive instrumental prowess to the fore, either – that’s why, perhaps, there’s no details as to where exactly Jennifer Batten or Billy Sheehan appear alongside other masters of guitar and bass – because the collective’s self-titled album focuses on progressive pop and makes virtuosic playing serve the vision of somebody called Ray. Apparently, enigmas don’t need last names to bolster their deceptively deadpan delivery when harnessing powerful energy of a strong tune and positive message.
And that’s possibly why the songs of “Fly To The Sun” span a little more than half an hour, hooking the listener on Gregg Bissonette’s infectious grooves which opener “Soaring With Angels” covers with Ray’s welcoming voice, asking “Are you ready?” and replying this rhetorical question by propelling his glimmering lines towards electronica-enhanced dancefloor – only to find six-string riffs and filigree embrace synth-pop’s tasty past in “You’re Free As A Bird” whose romantic fluttering is furthered via Andrew Giddings’ majestic keyboard passages, solemn piano included. But then there’s vibrant balladry of “Learn To Love Again” to introduce drama to the double-tracked, intimate vocals, and the titular cut to feature Ray’s flute – and his conversational tone to go with folk motifs and rock attack of an axe solo – while “Colorado You” flows across a sunny, funk-splashed vista, and the acoustically tinctured “Call Me” opts, in a rather banal manner, for more questions and answers.
Yet whereas the idealistic “Taj Mahal” picks up the same pattern in a slightly exotic way, the upbeat finale “Please Save My Heart Again” brings forth tastier harmonies to sign off in an optimism-setting mood, with Joe Deninzon’s violin spicing it up to take higher and higher. Hopefully, this project’s fate won’t be one of Icarus – these flights of fantasy deserve better.