The 2009 album "True Lies And Other Fantasies" by the duo Cailyn/Dani, which I reviewed in August of that year, was my introduction to talented songwriter/musician Cailyn Lloyd. Her album was a collection of hard driving rockers featuring four smoking originals and cover tunes from Kansas ("Portrait), ELP ("Still You Turn Me On"), Aerosmith ("Dream On"), Jimi Hendrix ("The Wind Cries Mary"), and Steve Windwood ("Can't Find My Way"). And although I was less than enthusiastic in my review of the duo's cover tunes, the original material grabbed my attention and proved to be the real highlight of the album, with quality vocals from Dani Daly and stellar musicianship from multi-instrumentalist Cailyn Lloyd. It wasn't prog - but it was hook laden quality rock and roll.
For her 2012 release "Four Pieces", Cailyn elevates her craft taking it to the next level by diluting the 'rock' from 'progressive rock' to produce a bona fide symphonic prog album in the grand tradition of Robert John Godfrey's legendary band The Enid.
This instrumental album contains - as the title suggests - four symphonic pieces which include Ralph Vaughn William's "Fantasia", the second movement of Antonín Dvorák's "New World Symphony" (better known as "Largo"), Samuel Barber's "Adagio For Strings", and Cailyn's original composition "Nocturne".
"Four Pieces" proved to be a challenging labor of love for Cailyn - the seed of which germinated in 2007 when she composed a blues variation of "Largo" for her first CD "New World In Blue". But the technical aspects of producing a sprawling multi-layered symphonic work ala Mike Oldfield proved a daunting task, so she temporarily shelved the project, opting for the collaboration with Dani Daly instead.
In 2010 she re-focused her attention to the symphonic project - determined to see it through. And finally in 2012 after years of writing, recording, tweaking and noodling, "Four Pieces" came to fruition. And the end result is aural delight. Hardly the follow-up one might expect from the Cailyn/Dani collaboration.
One can't help but draw comparisons to guitarists Steve Stewart and Francis Lickerish of The Enid and Craft (an off-shoot of The Enid) in Cailyn's fretwork.
"Fantasia" opens with the sprawling sense of regal majesty that heralds the arrival of the Queen and her Court at a Renaissance Celebration. Cailyn's expansive multi-layered guitar textures are reminiscent of Queen's guitar virtuoso Brian May.
"Largo" the second movement from Antonín Dvorák's "New World Symphony" was adapted into a popular spiritual song "Going Home" by composer Harry Burleigh and lyricist William Arms Fisher. It's a haunting melody, beautifully scored by Cailyn, with a perfect blend of keyboard orchestration and blues guitar.
"Adagio For Strings" is the most melancholy piece of music ever written - guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings; explaining why Hollywood filmmakers turn to it to as an effective way to manipulate the emotions of the audience. Case in point - the closing scene of "The Elephant Man" as John Merrick passes from this world to the next. As the haunting melody reverberates through the theater the audience shares a collective lump in their throat and eyes well with tears. Cailyn's beautiful interpretation evokes a similar response.
Cailyn's original composition "Nocturne" closes the album. It's an aesthetic bluesy piece for multiple guitars that rings of Mark Knopfler and David Gilmore.
"Four Pieces" should appeal to fans of The Enid, Craft, Karda Estra and instrumental symphonic prog. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on August 31st, 2012