Carlton Walker’s ambitious debut release, "Avery: A Rock Opera about a guy who writes a rock opera." It’s almost autobiographical with a rock opera within a rock opera, with themes stemming from Carlton‘s personal experiences he had down in Central America while doing foreign study in archaeology.
The storyline sees our protagonist named named Avery Mann, who writes a rock opera called ‘Everyman’, based on the medieval morality play Everyman. The rock opera is shelved after being dropped by a major record. Avery takes a sabbatical and heads off for Belize, a tiny Caribbean nation in Central America. Just as Avery’s life is thrust into peril as Guatemala invades Belize, he get word that some independent record label is willing to release his rock opera.
The music is best described as a Genesis meets The Who. Carlton describes it best on his website, “Take one disc from Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and one disc from The Who’s Quadrophenia and shuffle them”. Wow, that alone is an ambitious statement. Carlton delivers the good here which should satisfy fans of both bands and progressive rock in general. The only exception is those fans that are cynical or jaded with any Genesis influenced music.
Vocally, Carlton sounds like mixture of Peter Gabriel and Pete Townsend but more Gabriel sounding through most of the songs. Carlton also is a multi-instrumentalist and provides bass, keyboards and guitar on the album. Joining him is Ben Weaver on drums.
I found the entire album to be an interesting refreshing twist on the concept album theme as well as progressive rock in general. I find it on par with the afore mentioned albums as well as Kevin Gilbert’s ‘Shaming Of The True’, which has similar themes. I’d add Mariillion’s ‘Misplaced Childhood‘. Just like these concept albums, a full sitting is required.
Highlights of the album for me are “Excerpt from Everyman” and “Not Gonna Beat Myself Up Anymore“, which both being most progressive song on the album and closest to the Genesis song than any of the other songs. The closing track, “The Boy Who Got Everything” ends almost like the way “It” ends The Lamb. Highly recommended indeed!!!
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on Novemeber 9th, 2008