Cuppa Joe 2022
In the sky again, American art-rocker soars to reach for the rainbow’s end only to locate riches on the ground.
All it takes to hit one’s stride is start moving, and that’s exactly what Joe Macre did on "Bullet Train" in 2021, when the bassist set on a solo path under his own name – the route which, a year down the line, brought the veteran to “The Dream Is Free” where he returns to progressive rock everybody seemed to expect from him in the beginning of such a trip. More so, he’s back to exploring instrumental panoramas on this album, with vocals given pride of place but not stealing the listener’s attention in the way wordless passages do, especially in the impressively supple bottom-end department. Without as much as casting a glance at the past, writing-wise, yet inviting his CRACK THE SKY friend Rick Witkowski on board again, the American master finally harnesses the future spirit of yore here.
Operating in a duo and a trio format throughout the record, Macre may have introduced his new narrative via the platter’s boisterous title track whose acoustic twang turns out to be ebulliently elegant – enough to banish the anguish attached to the raga-tinged piece – but once Rick’s guitar and voice join Joe’s on “Tell Me” to display an intrepid state of mind, a romantically colored vista is unfurled for everybody to marvel at. A bubble of sorts, mesmeric shifts of its pop melody are punctuated by flurries of four-string notes before funky riffs of “Ride Or Die” lead the drift into the Hammond-supported heavy swell, and the cinematically orchestrated “Drop Me Off At The Rainbow” – quoting a tune from a certain movie that the previous album’s “If I Only Had A Brain” also brought about – sculpts a fairy-tale atmosphere.
And though the insistent waves of “Life In The Theater” break it with contemporary, if Mellotron-smeared, sonics, and “These Cool Years (Graduation)” rocks them into eternity, piling up the rumble, the one-man drive of “Not Looking Back Tonight” has accumulated spank and spunk in equal measure, and the lightweight pulse of “Tomorrow Is Today” has the arresting intensity of our present roll on and on. And while the thunderous “Get Up, Crack Down” offers grandiosity, the transparent mini-epic “The Dark Sky Sea” will propose a peaceful, easy flight into the great unknown. Exactly like dreams should – that’s where true freedom is.