NOTE: This review was originally published at DAMESOfPA.com on December 10, 2010.
While Disc One starts with the most recent work and then suddenly jumps back to the earliest, Disc Two provided the glue in-between those two extremes that holds the album all together. There are less dramatic highs and lows on this disc as compared to the first, but there is a more consistent sense of musical flow.
I found that after listening to the easier, more interpretive, Disc Two, it was easier to go back to Disc One and understand some of those songs better. There is some kind of cosmic link between these all that becomes more and more revealed as the listener steps through each chapter. For example, “The Last Man to Walk Alone”, which starts as mock-Johnny Cash, Americana tune, builds with more and more horns that I came to identify as fanfare, an introduction in grandeur to the journey unfolding in the lyrics. Looking back, we can hear a similar pattern in the song “Sister Josephine” from Disc One.
Disc Two starts with a sort-of introductory jam in the form of “The Fool’s Overture”, a continuum from first disc which fades in right were that one fades out, but soon finds it’s own identity in a long instrumental build-up to the ultimate verse of the song. Next, the listener is brought to the heart of the album with the riddle-like, melodic “She Said” and the quiet, romantic “Keep Doing What You Do”, both simple, elegant piano tunes with nice catchy hooks.
The bluesy lament, “You Sure Were Fun” is more complex, sliced in half by the hot knife of its funky mid section. The fun, straight-up rocker “33 Shots at Louis” has just enough hint of edge to make it very interesting with a couple of simultaneous piano and guitar leads. Once again, looking back at Disc One, this upbeat & frivolous tune could not be more different than its counterpart, the deep and introspective “33 Flames for Mary”.
“Believe” is the simplest of songs with just piano, voice and some restrained percussion. This point/counter-point look at faith is deeply philosophical while stopping short of being overtly religious. A more cynical song, “A New Religion”, follows with a mechanical, robotic rhythm and political undertones. Musically, this song has some very interesting passages getting from this key to that key then back again. Perhaps the weakest song in the collection, the scattered and confused ballad “The Cup” follows.
Disc Two’s first inclusion of new material not included on the original Imaginary Lines II is the pleasant, moody tribute entitled “The Old Man In the Sea”. Originally, “Old Man” was to be the first part of a 3-part extended suite called “Ocean Suite” which was to include the subsequent two numbers â€“ the theatrical “Twilight of Innocence”, a mini-suite in of itself, and “Here on the Beach” a pleasant, romantic, and nostalgic song of hope. Unfortunately, thinking the resulting 14+ minute song would be too much, Albano did not stick with this original plan and ended up splitting the suite back into three separate songs, which have some unfortunate cutoffs and one of the few blatant production errors on Disc Two.
The purely-pop, tongue-in-cheek “Naked” is an original in it’s own right and proceeds “Deuce”, an edgy jam that trades synth and guitar leads featuring Erik Trabert and being a light-hearted lead-in to the album’s heavy, deep conclusion.
Imaginary Lines 33 concludes with the second pair of death/ressurection songs (after “Ashes”/”The Phoenix” on Disc One). “Half Hearted” is a lamenting look back on a life not well lived as one faces imminent demise and death. The song dissolves into bell-tolling piano chords that are picked up by “Long Way Home”, the fitting, climatic conclusion to this marathon collection. A song of redemption, resurrection, and rebirth and, perhaps, the deepest song of the entire collection, “Long Way Home” provides an optimistic, hopeful conclusion to this winding, deep journey.
The journey that is Imaginary Lines 33 has it’s ups and downs and may not be for everyone always. But, all in all, music lovers will appreciate this original piece of artistic rock-n-roll.