Albums can be hard to pigeonhole. Often it's easy to determine whether an album should have a review on DPRP.net. But sometimes there is this feeling that although the music would definitely not be categorised under "progressive rock" or related genres, you just know it is an interesting album for at least part of our readers. Albums that are on the fringes of what DPRP.net is about. Albums that are, well, close to the edge.
ED — Evolved
Edwin in 't Veld (ED) is a highly respected Dutch guitar player, active for the past 40 years in the international music scene as a session musician, band member, song writer and producer. Being normally busy with numerous projects, the global pandemic unintentionally provided him with the extra time required to produce and release his first solo album Evolved. It contains material he has been writing, evaluating, rejecting, endorsing, recording, and mixing during the previous two years.
From his widely spanned network of fellow and friendly musicians, he gathered Ger de Haan (keyboards), Ton van der Kolk (bass), and Timothy van der Holst (drums) to help him produce this release, containing eight instrumentals and one song (A Long Way To Come Home), in which Elroy Schaap and Monique van der Ster act as guests on vocals.
On this release, the common denominator (the red thread) is rock, which is being presented in various styles and characteristics, all being meticulously blended to create something coherent and individual. There are some AOR elements, reminiscent to Toto, and Quarterflash (Jump In), hints at the instrumental passages of Dire Straits (Expectation and my favourite Slow Moves), echoes of blues (A Long Way To Come Home), some Latin and jazzy tunes a bit like Santana (Sunday Morning Delight), a little oriental mood (Arabica), and some slight symphonic components on The Way Things Go, another great song. A spirit of prog rock hovers above the entire release and occasionally materialises, without making this a prog rock album by most definitions.
Being the work of a guitar player, ED's instrument clearly is in the foreground, with a healthy mix of riffing and soloing. However, it becomes evident that ED, besides his role as guitarist, also has made a name for himself as a music producer. Consequently, his guitar neither outplays nor dominates the other instruments. The keyboards especially (mainly e-piano and organ) widely exceed the function of mere accompaniment and are given plenty of opportunities to play their distinctive part in the tracks.
Reviewing this release provided me with the opportunity to encounter a sphere of session musicians, which I had not come across much before, rather having concentrated on the "band domain" of progressive rock, which, as far as I can tell, seems to enjoy a higher visibility. I was pleased to discover, though, that there is an enormous spectrum of excellent musicianship around in this field, in which ED plays his distinctive role. I found influences by (and similarities with) the playing styles of, amongst others, Martin Miller Session Band, Andy Timmons, Steve Lukather and Allen Hinds.
I believe that this release will please a lot of listeners. It tolerates being listened to as a mere distraction, but also purposely and attentively. Dogmatically speaking, it is at the periphery of progressive rock, but who really cares, the music being simply really good. The prog rock purist may possibly shake his/her head in doubt, but is still likely to acknowledge the skills of these musicians, the professionalism inherent in the production, and the straightforward honesty of the music, whilst still finding enough prog elements to get one's money's worth.
On the other hand, listeners wishing to cautiously approach the prog rock universe will recognise that ED's music represents a perfect opportunity to familiarise oneself with this musical style in digestible doses. It is a wonderfully fresh release, full of musical enthusiasm and playfulness. It incites the listeners to head-moving and foot-tapping (a bit dangerous when listening to this music in your car whilst driving).
Looking for something accessible, solid, relaxing, upbeat, and spirit-raising in these sometimes depressing times? Be my guest!