The James L’Estraunge Orchestra – Eventual Reality

The beauty of this music is its sweet melancholy and gloomy atmosphere that is able to lure you deeper into the mix. Scottish pianist and producer Ricky Reid has assembled jazz and classical musicians in a remote place in the Scottish highlands and came up with this über-cinematic collection of songs.

The James L'Estraunge Orchestra "Eventual Reality"The vibrant drums on pieces like “Closer”, also the first single, and Ricky’s soulful vocals, almost like a mix between Billy Joel and Bruce Springstreen, are pretty magnetic characteristics on the 8-track album. The sax and piano part keep the tension alive throughout the track. Sometimes the piano parts seem to be there to assuage you, like on the hypnotic “Me And The Bear” where just when you think the whole piece changes to something a bit kitschy, an adventurous keyboard part takes over with dramatic strings underlining the procedure.

The strings are a vital part on pieces like the title track and “We Rise” where they basically take over the whole melody before Ricky’s voice comes back in, complemented by a female backing singer. One of the highlights for me is the beautiful ballad “See You Tonight”, again with Ricky’s otherworldly vocals, sensitive and powerful at the same time and reminding me of some mid 70s soul stuff. The warm Rhodes and the backing vocal arrangement really make this a special treat.

It’s back to the big screen again with the cinemascope-style “Autumn Falls” with effective synths and keyboards and time-shifting passages underscoring the drama. Straight out of an action movie comes the bombastic “It’s Happened Before” with high-energy drumming and the total opposite is the final cut on this well-rounded set, “The Call”. The melancholic piano and ensuing sax sounds like a bit of Lambchop meets ECM, with the strings turning this into a pretty touching piece.

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