Simon Says - Paradise Square - 2002
From Sweden, a progressive land, comes Simon Says second CD. The first album was considered as the "The lamb lies..." of the nineties (I can´t understate these reviewers´ frivolities) and now, with the better distribution of Galileo Records, they introduce us this "Paradise Square", a conceptual album about the search of God and other existential problems.
Simon Says is a young and promising band formed by Stefan Renström (bass, keyboards, backing vocals and compositions), Daniel Fäldt (lead vocals, sitar), Jonas Hallberg (guitars, backing vocals), and Mattias Jarlhed (percussion).
Of course I won´t be the one who state that this album is a masterpiece (a word very overused nowadays) but I´ll state this is a good CD that can be enjoyed not only by new progheads generations, but also classic prog fans.
And that´s because Simon Says is, just like The Flower Kings, Magenta, Under the big tree, etc. , one of those bands that wisely blends different influences from classic progressive bands but also adding personality and a high musical skill.
Do you want an example?... the first track "And by the water" (4:45) starts very Tullish (the keyboard suspiciously sounds very similar to "Thick as a brick") but quickly develops into Genesis structures, both the music and Fäldt´s voice, very influenced by Gabriel. We can also find other known influences along the whole album but the shadow of Genesis shadow dominates everything, shamelessly in "Paradise Square" (13:42). Anyway I´m not talking about a copycat like, i.e. The Tulipe Noire with Marillion. This band knows how to adapt that influence within its own musical personality. We can even find some gleams of experimentation in "Darkfall" (2:35), a very spacey track with sitar. Anyway all the tracks are wonderfully played and they are plenty of nice melodies and keyboards solos. That´s the reason why the satisfaction is guaranteed in the longest tracks (the aforementioned ones plus "White glove" (15:28) and "Aftermath" (10:02).
Perhaps the purist progheads and those who bet on the continuous renovation of the genre (and I´m included) dislike these kind of bands but I have to be accurate and I must admit that although you won´t find anything new inside this album, Simon Says provides the listener 60 minutes of symphonic rock suitable for all ages and "Paradise Square" is an insurance if you want to listen to a great album with 70´s flavor.