Kevin Lawry - The Shadows Stole the Dawn
Progressive Rock
7 songs ()
Release year: 2016
Reviewed by Alex

Reviewing a singer-songwriter album is a bit out of character for this site, but for one, I have done it recently for Conny Ochs, and two, I was really curious what Kevin Lawry called a “beautiful landscape of progressive rock”. Being not familiar with Kevin’s earlier epic doom works in Silent Winter and later in Crowned in Earth, the band that just became his eponymous solo project, left me without prejudice, able to judge The Shadows Stole the Dawn without any preconceived notions.

I am not going to dispute whether the album projects beauty, that notion should remain totally in the eye of the beholder, but I can say that, indeed, The Shadows Stole the Dawn come written from the heart, a collection of some very private musings, even if I can’t call Kevin’s vocals very fragile and penetrating. While 100% British, earnest and sincere, they do not serve as a focal point for the songs on the album, which is probably a minus for any album where a single individual is behind the whole creation (compare that with Mick Moss). Very often Kevin just recites lyrics in a spoken fashion, and while it works next to the calm flow on The River, on Tale of the Drowning Man his vocals sound as if he is basically just naming a litany of things.

The main attraction of the album is then Kevin’s guitars and songwriting. Broken Arrow has a definite hook to it, that magic British psychedelia of the 80s, and The Bitter Wind unveils an interesting foot folky tapping rhythm next to acoustic strumming. Not just stuck with the latter, Kevin has more ideas in his songwriting, crafting 2-part pieces with Faith and Fracture. At the same time, however, whenever the album gets away from a simpler hook, it does sometimes sound like a juxtaposition of parts (title track), difficult to follow as no culmination emerges.

The bigger problem to me, however, was the sound of The Shadows Stole the Dawn, which reflects an artist in search of the genre. It seems Kevin vacillated between a sound I could assign to a number of Prophecy bands, simple crystal and unencumbered, next to something what Svart would want to put out, something more complex and, in a way, orchestral. The drama building up in Faith suffers from sound thinness, while violin sounds and symphonic expanse of Fracture are very synthetic and artificial. Call this a faux-orchestra, if you wish. It is if just playing guitars would not have been satisfactory, Kevin felt the need to add more layers to the compositions, yet those came out rather amateurish, a do-it-yourself variety. Going for bigger production could have been a matter of budget, but also may have subtracted in terms of personal character of the album, thus The Shadows Stole the Dawn swings between two directions striking no balance.

It is probably unfair for me to criticize the outcome without being familiar with the background and full intent of the process behind The Shadows Stole the Dawn, but I found myself just gazing away from the album, not feeling completely into the flow, except when melodies became more direct and obvious. Usually, if I am into a progressive rock album, it strikes me viscerally, so I don’t have to strain myself looking for the beauty promised.

Killing Songs :
Broken Arrow, The River, The Bitter Wind
Alex quoted 72 / 100
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