First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2007, Volume 14, #12
Written by John Metzger
Sat December 1, 2007, 07:45 AM CST
Over the course of the past decade, Dick Prall has become something of a fixture on the Chicago music scene, both as the front man for The Starch Martins and as a solo artist. His latest effort Weightless is, without a doubt, his most ambitious and engaging endeavor yet. Throughout the set, Prall concocts an assortment of indelible confections by stuffing Beatle-esque melodies inside a simplified variation of The Beach Boys’ brand of symphonic pop. The result, oddly enough, is that many of its tracks draw heavily from Genesis’ canon — specifically from A Trick of the Tail to Duke — without ever falling into the trap of prog-rock excess.
The title Weightless is derived from a lyric in the hit-and-run tale If It Bends, though it also serves as an apt description not only of the themes of disconnection and detachment that circumnavigate the endeavor but also of the music itself. More often than not, Prall’s songs drift along with a sad but sweet air, yet for all of the richness of his arrangements, everything, in the end, essentially boils down to his voice, his guitar, and the cries that emanate from Chad Gifford’s violin. At the flip of a switch, the lights could go dark, the amps could shut down, and tracks like The Cornflake Song, I Took a Life, and Honore instantly would revert to the captivatingly solitary loveliness of coffeehouse folk.
Although Prall still has a tendency to wear his power pop influences proudly, he, for the first time, has subdued them enough to reveal what really makes him tick. Weightless’ melodic beauty may provide easy access to the endeavor, but in the end, the way in which the music unfurls around his smartly crafted lyrics ultimately is what leaves the sort of lingering impression that is necessary for enticing the listener back for more. ½
Weightless is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box