introSalem Hill was formed in 1991 by Carl Groves, Pat Henry and Kevin Thomas. Michael Dearing joined a bit later. Their goal was “Make music of creative and artistic merit”. After the studio albums “Salem Hill” (1992), “Different worlds” (1993), “Catatonia” (1997), “The robbery of murder” (1998), “Not everybody's gold” (2000), “Be” (2003) and the live album “Puppet show” (2003) their seventh studio album is called “Mimi's magic moment”.
Kevin Thomas - vocals, drums, acoustic & electric mallets; Carl Groves - vocals, guitars, keyboards, piano; Patrick Henry - vocals, 4 & 12 string bass; Michael Dearing - vocals, guitars, keys
David Ragsdale - violin; Neal Morse - vocals; Alyssa Hendrix - vocals; Jeff Eacho - flute; Fred Schendel - piano.
The band wanted to do another concept album but then realized that 3 of the last 4 albums had been concept albums, so they decided to challenge themselves and see if they could tell the stories within single-albeit epic-pieces. So you can find “only” 4 long progressive and symphonic epic's on this album. That's more than a progressive fan could wish for.
The first track “The joy gem” (15:03) is indeed a beautiful gem. With special guests Neal Morse (vocals) and David Ragsdale (violin) this track is just beautiful. I love the use of the electric violin in progressive rock. If someone told you that you were listening to the new Kansas album you would probably believe it! The album is full of great melodic keyboard tunes and catchy vocal parts. “The joy gem” has it all. Melodic parts, but also up-tempo more rockier parts with keyboard, guitar and violin solo's. The dual violin/guitar and violin/keyboard duels are working towards climaxes. The mallets, the piano and the violin sometimes give the music also a jazz-fusion touch. Fans of Glass Hammer, Kansas and Neal Morse will love this great opener of the album!
“All fall down” (7:14) is the shortest track of this album. The first part of the song I would like to describe it as a melodic ballad with a catchy vocal refrain. The next part is up-tempo has flute parts played by Jeff Eacho. “Stolen by ghosts” (21:29) opens with the violin of David Ragsdale. Like the opener this piece is long and divers. A lot of rhythm changes, powerful rock pieces next to delicate and jazzy piano parts (that reminds me of the work of Michael Gettel). And throughout the whole album the vocals are amazing. And if you love a lot of keyboards in your prog, this album is for you. The soaring violin solo of David Ragsdale reminds me of the work of Jean-Luc Ponty and Charlie Bisharat.
The album closes with “The future me” (18:53). The guitar work in the opening has some King Crimson references (period of “Discipline”). But Salem Hill combines it with melodic keyboard and guitar parts. Then acoustic guitar and piano transforms the music into a delicate ballad. The jazzy piano solo in this track is played by Fred Schendel (Glass Hammer). The tension of the music is slowly building up to a kind of climax. The vocals of Alyssa Hendrix reminds me of the albums of Glass Hammer.
I can't compare this seventh studio album with the previous one's because
this is my first album of Salem Hill.
But I can tell you that “Mimi's
magic moment” is a very strong album. For me the opener “The
joy gem” and the track “Stolen
by ghosts” are the highlights of the album. I would like
to describe it as a keyboard dominated symphonic prog album with a lot
of variation and some jazz fusion atmospheres.
Food for Glass Hammer and Kansas fans!