Driving West - Power - 2000
Driving West is a trio that has been born from the ashes of Sahara Rain, a band that had no relationship with progressive rock and much more with commercial FM hard rock. The two leaders of the band, Richard Matthews (guitars, bass and voice) and Andrew Marks (guitars, keyboards and voice) got together with the missionary James Matthews (guitars, voice) to create this trio of certainly varied music, of brilliant instrumentation, and of exquisite detail. They have not run away from a certain pleasure for the mainstream, but the color of their songs makes them be somewhat more than a "normal" band. In fact, in "Power", Ty Tabor (leader of King´s X and recognized Christian) has collaborated as the producer.
The 12 pieces that form "Power" are of a crushing simplicity and humbleness. As in the case of King´s X, Driving West is one of those bands that have the gift of melody without always keeping an eye on the market and, of course, without falling in AOR. Besides the comparison with the Tabor guys, I would also compare them with the huge Cheap Trick, the forgotten Canadian band Loverboy, and some references to classic bands inside American rock.
As a good example of the capacity of these North Americans we have "Fear", first track of the CD, very rhythmic and full with melody; the beautiful "Cold blind/Anger" with folkie airs (well, only the first part; the second is quite hard, as in "Hard to say I´m sorry/Get away" of Chicago); "Art of letting go"; "Deny"; the fantastic "Follow" or the impressive "Touch your soul". We find heavier moments in "Power of Hope"; "Throwing it all away". There are even more "dance-like" moments in a hard funk style (Living Colour but softer) in "Messenger", with a great guitar riff; "Must be late". The most tender piece is the ballad "Art of letting go".
When valuing this kind of works, we must keep in mind the different conception of prog rock of North Americans more heterogeneous- and Europeans more orthodox and purist-; although from the point of view of the US, "Power" is a robust CD of hard rock "with meat", linked to melodic rock and pomp AOR, it is very possible that the Europeans don't classify this as prog. Nevertheless "Power" is a very good collection of very well arranged, played and composed pieces.