Lou Maxwell Taylor - "Cheshire Tree Suite"
(Myshkazippy Productions 1999, 00100)
From Aural Innovations #8 (October 1999)
"Cheshire Tree Suite" was produced by Vermont resident Lou Maxwell Taylor who plays light melodic orchestral progressive rock that incorporates folk and classical influences. There are strong Celtic influences in spots, not surprising given the presence of mandolin, violin, and bodhran. Taylor composed all the music, sings, and plays keyboards and synths, guitar, bodhran, and many forms of percussion. He is joined by guests on even more varieties of percussion, guitar, bass, button accordion, clarinet, fiddle, cello, mandolin, and vocals.
Taylor's vocals are very close to Geoff Mann of the early 80's British progressive band Twelfth Night, though the music isn't dark and intense like that band was. He equals Mann's vocal power and passion most notably on "What Life Is", a potent number with an orchestral buildup that leads into a rapid percussion heavy segment with piano and synth. The lyrics are VERY well written and well worth following along with. The music travels through a variety of styles, opening with a piano, clarinet, and mandolin instrumental, moving on to the almost show tune feel of "Someone Has Stolen My Star", and on to the Celtic touch of "Lost Lake". Taylor is backed by some excellent female vocalists, one of them, Lygia Ferra, who shares lead vocals with him on "The Living And the Dead", a gorgeous melodic song made majestic by the mandolin, cello, and accordian. Beautiful.
In summary, "Cheshire Tree Suite" will appeal to fans of orchestral progressive rock that explores varied, but coherent, styles of folk and classical music accompanied by passionate vocals and lyrics. When I say orchestral though I should emphasize that the music is quiet and easy paced, though emotional and well developed.
For more information you can email L. Maxwell Taylor at Lmax@together.net.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz