John Wesley – Disconnect – CD Review

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This is a CD that I went out and found.  After re-watching Porcupine Tree’s Anesthetize DVD, I got curious about their touring guitarist.  Voilà, John Wesley and his latest CD.

For everything very technical or progressive rock found in Porcupine Tree, this CD is not.  But it’s also not .38 Special in its paint by the numbers song structure, raised fist anthems, or radio ready guitar solos.  Instead, this a a fairly contemplative set of songs that allows a guitarisJohn-Wesleyt to have his way.   And, if the guitarist’s name is the titular artist, then his vocals are (usually) obliged to be included.  In any case, this is a rocking CD that is built for repeated listening.

There are lyrics that could be prime Porcupine Tree material, and the first two songs would be prime candidates.   Wesley’s vocals are by no means the strength of this album.  They’re honest, he voices his lyrics well, and he ventures into some unusual phrasings on the refrains that work.  But it’s a worn voice and not one that a casual listener would expect to be in a lead singer role.   Then the guitar solo kicks in, and you don’t care anymore. 

The first two songs, “Disconnect” and “Any Old Saint” are fine examples.  Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson would deliver these with a precise sterility, which isn’t a bad thing.  There’s just no point in others doing that.  Here, Wesley sounds like a grizzled veteran, wearied from past decisions that cause him to be less than he should be and not particularly optimistic of doing much better.  So, that doesn’t sound like a very listenable album, right?  The lyrics can be obtuse, but they remain worth a read.  Here’s the lyric for “Satellite”:

When I wake to the darkened skies
I tell myself all the little lies

Lies that make us whole again
The ones that help us carryon and just pretend

When I stare into the night
I see you there as a satellite

Out of reach up in the sky
Never touching down and you’ll never try

Better just a dream you are
A satellite lost among the stars
Better just a dream you stay
Better if we just, if we just look away

Better just a dream you stay
Better if we just, if we just look away

If the cover photo suggests a questioning of the nature of morality found in war, Wesley’s lyrics often suggest the search for a corresponding faith. 

So, if judging the measure of an album is to be found in its themes, there’s some satisfaction here.  However, the guitar is why people choose to listen, and Wesley doesn’t disappoint, especially on the songs listed below.  Surprisingly, “Take What You Need” reveals an inner Billy Squier.  I’m surprised he doesn’t use that more often or feature his female supporting singer higher in the mix (or on lead vocals).

Overall, a very satisfying CD. 

Recommended Songs: “Disconnect,” “Any Old Saint,” “Once a Warrior,” “Take What You Need”

3 of 5 STARS



1 comment :

  1. The Satellite's lyrics is quiet nice. I don't know how nice the tune is.