Artist/ Band: PJ Shadowhawk
Title: NeverEverLand
Label: Dinosaur Records
Year of Release: 2014
Offical Artist/ Band Link

The Review:

P.J. Shadowhawk has a long and storied career in progressive rock - working on both sides of the Atlantic. In the late 70s' early 80s' P.J recorded with the successful Chicagoland progressive rock band Gabriel Bondage who released a pair of interesting cross-over prog/rock albums on the independent Dharma Label ("Angel Dust" and "Another Trip To Earth"), which are still highly sought after by vinyl collectors to this day. Their music was similar to another pair of Chicagoland products Styx and Zazu, and in my humble opinion the track "Take It On A Dare" from "Another Trip To Earth" was better than anything Styx was doing at the time. The composition and musicianship has that highly polished ELP "Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends" anthem vibe to it.

Unfortunately the band never cracked the National charts and their reputation didn't venture too far beyond the shores of Lake Michigan. Yet they, like so many regional American prog/rock bands of the era, remain local legends. I had the blue vinyl version of "Another Trip To Earth" and wore it out.

P.J. teamed up with the band following "Another Trip To Earth" and was the drummer for an unreleased third studio album which has yet to see the light if day.

But on a positive note, the members of the currently reformed Gabriel Bondage are presently scouring the archives for any and all studio recordings with intentions of remastering both lost recordings as well as transferring their first two album to digital in the near future. So P.J.'s work as a member of Gabriel Bondage may finally be made available - along with enough unreleased Gabriel Bondage material for possibly three albums.

For the next two decades P.J. honed his skill as a session player performing in show bands and composing music for theater and TV shows.

P.J. later teamed up with the reformed British neo-progressive band Quasar from 2005 till 2010. Poor health issues stemming from the disease Lupus took a toll on P.J. causing him to leave the touring band - but it didn't deter P.J. Shadowhawk from composing and creating some amazing music afterward.

Over the years P.J. expanded his musical resume from simply drummer to multi-instrumentalist, adding a mastery of keyboards and guitar to his musical pallet - as well as accomplished songwriter, recording engineer, and producer.

The 2014 release "NeverEverLand" is the brilliant follow-up to his 2010 debut "Land Of Dreams" (also reviewed on ProgNaut).

"NeverEverLand" is a tapestry of finely crafted melodic tunes complimented by spirited guitar work, delicate piano themes, and lush keyboard textures. The compositions are beautifully arranged and skillfully produced, making for an enjoyable listening experience. The perfect blend of warm production values and spacious instrumental balance saturates the sound spectrum making "NeverEverLand" a great headphone album.

P.J.'s thin vocal delivery is reminiscent of x-King Crimson alumni Pete Sinfield on his album "Still", and takes a little time getting used to. More mid to lower range harmonies to thicken up the sound might be something to consider for his next outing (like those used in the vocal chorus of track 4). But on the whole his voice seems perfectly suited for the light and airy material on the album.

P.J. augments this recording with the following guest musicians: Evan Raymond (guitars), Trevor Lloyd (violins), Steve LaPorta (percussion), William Maher (guitars), Alan Mayer (guitars), Gabriel Scott (vocals), Samantha Lee (vocals).

Highly recommended for fans of neo and cross-over prog.

Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on December 24th, 2014

Tracks:

01. The Only One: Suite
a. Darkness Before The Dawn
b. A New Day Begins
02. NeverEverLand
03. Subsukkoth
04. Excalibur
05. Icarus

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