Mickey Simmonds — The Shape of Rain
(Cymbeline 5075-2, 1996, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 1997-02-01
Mickey Simmonds' debut as a solo artist presents a well-traveled craftsman in do-it-yourself mode. I'm not certain if this is due in part to his inability to supply material for a group project (i.e. Camel) or another solo artist (i.e. Fish or Mike Oldfield), but the results are favorable and seem to improve upon repeated listenings. The subject matter appears to be based on a young woman's personal trials and tribulations (somewhat similar in context to Marillion's Brave, though not as tragic). Mickey has created ten tracks under 50 minutes that I think fit in extremely well with the context of the most recent Camel album, Harbour of Tears. In fact, when comparing the two, Shape seems to be on a parallel thread and at times more satisfying. Mickey plays all instruments with smooth dexterity, and several keyboard settings simulate Latimer-like lead guitar moans. The disc is a mature, subtle statement that starts and ends with a sensitive rain storm and generates a quiet, warm imagery throughout. It's important to note that this is not a flashy synthesizer workout opportunity for a talented keyboardist — one can detect a thoughtful process for song development and themes. Unknown Martin Sunley contributes vocals on five songs, while storytelling lyrics are provided by the mysterious Prophet. The disc is pricy as a Japanese import but worth it.
Related artist(s): Mickey Simmonds
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