Maybe John Burns's name doesn't remind you of anything. Maybe you will never know him. It would be one of those tremendous injustices that have been taking place for about 15 years and that relegates to a second division musicians whose music is genuinely alternative (Nirvana or Soundgarden are an alternative to what?). Unfortunately in these times in which record labels bet for the new quintet of brats, the Latin revelation or the band of alternative metal, sounds like those of the progressive rock or its siblings (AOR or American pomp) don't have the repercussion of a while ago.
John Burns is a Canadian that began to play piano when he was six years old emulating his heroes ELO and Supertramp. When he was twelve he learned guitar to try to sound as Rush or Pink Floyd (a boy with good musical taste). Then he began to play in bands of heavy metal until a traffic accident made him change his career and create music that was positive for the neighbours. In fact, his passion for the technology takes him to study as neuro-surgery assistant, creating computer programs of brain surgery, as well as creating his own recording studio.
Out is one of those albums whose production strikes as very clean and clear. I will not mention the long list of musicians that collaborate with Burns (voice, keyboards, piano, guitars, composition, production and arrangements) but it is very interesting. The first track "Alice" (4:16) gives a sample of the album with some crystalline guitars and an impressive sense of melody and composition. It reminds me, in the tempo of rhythm guitars, from "The year of the cat" of Al Stewart but in a year 2000 version with shades of Toto, Journey or Boston. Very good guitar solos. "The Wave" (4:55) is built starting from acoustic guitar over mattresses of keyboards. It is an intimate piece in which the vocals are more grave to open the way to a chorus with reminiscences to Pink Floyd with female choirs. Pay attention to the work of acoustic guitar, of high quality. "Where we go from here" (4:32) is a rhythmic topic in which the piano takes control and that it has one of those choruses that stay in your head for weeks. In better times it would have been a hit. An specially interesting piano solo (with a lot of "jive") and the use of the hammond. Maybe many can think that the topic is not relevant, but I find it to be one of the best of the album (not everything must be seriousness in the life of the homo progresivus!).
"Fields" (5:31) is another grandiose composition that also possesses the essence of Pink Floyd filtered by American sounds, an essence that is noticed in the arrangements of guitars and in the final solo. "I dont want this to end" (3:29) is an acoustic ballad in the style of "Is there anybody out there?" with beautiful arrangements of guitars and an interesting base of synthesizers, that finishes with a wonderful saxophone intervention. The same ballad structure is heard in the following piece "Let go" (3:43), just with slightly less quality and with more stress in the "feeling". "Way back" (4:34) returns to the sound of bands like Journey or Pavlov´s Dog. A very well played bass, a great contribution of guitars, keyboards and female voices, and, in definitive, a very well arranged song although quite monotonous in the vocal parts. "Here I stand" (5:37) begins in a very epic way and introduces into neoprog of the style of Arena or Jadis in the vocal melodies, saved by great instrumental moments again, with a sax and guitar solo that will make you shiver. "Man overboard" (4:19) is a topic with an interesting rhythm imposed by an imaginative drummer (greetings to Jorn Andersen). In theory a commercial piece but in which the infinite shades of the percussion make the adjective not be pejorative at all. To conclude "Interstellar drifter" (5:25) is a summary of the musical capacity of Burns: a great beginning between epic and lyrical, a vocal development worthy of the best American school and a chemically perfect instrumentation.
What is positive in "Out"?. To start with, an exquisite production that will make your CD players shiver (listen to it with headphones, it is a pleasure). Then, big melodies; an instrumentation of first quality with big interventions by the musicians; and a music that can satisfy the fans of the progressive American of the mid 70s (Boston, Journey), those fond of the last Floyd, or even those that you like well made luminous music. The negatives can be valued by the most heterodox progheads since there is not anything of "darkness" or nothing that has not been heard before (an indispensable condition to achieve the desired fifth star), but within its style it is a very, very good album.