John Wesley - 'A Way You'll Never Be'

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John Wesley - 'A Way You'll Never Be'

An outstanding piece of work from one of Rock's underestimated players.

John Wesley – a name familiar to most, if not all Progressive music fans. The highly-rated sideman for the live incarnations of Porcupine Tree, Sound Of Contact, and Bigelf, Fish collaborator and former Marillion guitar tech – indeed he's all set for upcoming solo supports for both Marillion and Steven Wilson – also has a prospering solo career. In fact, shame on those of us who have thus far been neglectful of that career and output.

It might even be surprising that he's found time to record eight solo albums since 'Under The Red And White Sky' (1994) and on a fairly regular basis as well. With such a CV, anyone expecting similar Alternative Progressive Rock explorations might not be surprised at the claim that 'a way you'll never be' (and its deliberate lower case) is a modernized take on traditional Progressive Rock.

Once you get past the "man on fire", 'Wish You Were Here'-like cover and the use of lower case letters for all the song titles, the album is a set of songs which fulfil Wesley's other promise of this being an album featuring his "electric heavy guitar" element – and all the better for it. With Mark Prator and Sean Malone adding drums and bass to the Wesley imaginings, it's a potent trio making a gesture from the start as 'by the light of a sun' kicks in with a vengeance sounding like it belongs on the classy 'In Absentia'; all dynamic, jerky stop/start riffs and a hint of some of the Psychedelic soloing to come – it's a highly impressive opening.

There are plenty of Rush-like power chord stylings occurring frequently on the title track while Wesley gets to let loose and test out the pedal board on 'to outrun the light'. He gets to showing all those influences from the classic Progressive artists, with more reflective moments and snaking instrumental passages culminating in 'unsafe space' leading into 'sun.a.rose'.

You can see why, firstly, he's on the go-to list of so many bands and, secondly, why anyone hearing this as their first taste of John Wesley will be scurrying straight to 'Disconnect' (2014) and working through his back catalogue. A few hundred words of a Fireworks / Rocktopia review probably doesn't do this album justice; an outstanding piece of work from one of Rock's underestimated players.

Mike Ainscoe

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