Songs from the 3rd Octave
Sound & Spirit
CD Reviews by Don Strong
Songs from the 3rd Octave
available online at www.larrysiegel.com
and at iTunes, Amazon, etc.
I've always thought of songwriter/singer Larry Siegel as the Paul Simon for mystics. Each of the many times I've seen him perform, Larry shows an elfin stage presence, bright eyes twinkling, a quick New York witicism at the ready, a clear voice and an energetic guitar strum. For thirty years Larry has well used his songwriters's craft along the mystic's path. As a masterful musician on guitar, mandolin, ukulele, harmonica and as a singer/composer/producer, Larry Siegel nimbly weaves the thread of spirituality into all of his performances and creations.
When not recording, Larry stays busy performing in New York and beyond. In 1997, Larry was the was the bandleader for the New York Yankees and his recent national television appearances include Rosie O'Donnell, Breakfast Time and TV Nation. He has been a featured instrumentalist with Dolly Parton, Lucy Arnaz, Lester Lanin, Belinda Carlisle, "Papa" John Phillips, and has led bands on Her Majesty's Ship, the QE2. However, Larry is perhaps best known and loved world-wide for his work with the Hindu Kush Mountain Boys Plus One. HKMB+1 is an innovative vocal group Larry co-founded that sings upbeat spiritual songs with insightful and often humorous lyrics to the tune of toe-tapping folk and bluegrass style music.
His new self-produced 10-song CD "Songs from the Third Octave" shines light on some of Larry's lesser known songwriting skills like calypso and contemporary pop rock. I asked the artist via e-mail, (Larry is an avid computer guy) about the meaning of his intriguing CD title, "Songs from the Third Octave". He replies: "It relates to octaves in the mystical sense rather than the musical sense, but I like the connection to both. In the mystical sense, life in the first octave is concerned with the personal issues, the second octave with a slightly larger circle of endeavor and the third octave with the universal. So these are songs from the universal worlds of being."
Produced in his own upstate New York-based Cliff Hanger studio, the CD features a rhythm section, strings, six back-up singers, horns and Trinidadian steel drums!
The lead tune, "One More Time" is a catchy, medium tempo pop-rock number about reincarnation, consciousness and the upward spiral of evolution. There is some nice Jefferson Starship flavor and a tasty Allman -Brother's style double guitar lead. Definitely in the spiritual pop top-40.
W. B. Yeats gorgeous poem "The Song of Wandering Aengus" (also known to some of us as... the silver apples of the moon, the golden apples of the sun) receives a yearning celtic musical treatment complete with the sweet sounds of penny whistle and trilling mandolin. This song shows the beauty of Larry's clear, story-teller tenor voice. This "Aengus" is bittersweet and lovely. "Trial of the Millenium" a bouncy calypso romp, is my daughter Ariele's favorite tune on the CD. We heard him debut it live in Montreal to an enthusiastic audience at a writers conference. Larry retells a true story from Bermuda of two judges who try each other for the same offence with a suprise resolution. I dig the "I Love Lucy" horn section at the end.
"Circle of Friends" about an inner group of helpful souls that extends spiritual aid to far corners of the galaxy, features Crosby Stills & Nash style vocal harmony and Joni Mitchell-like chord progressions. Larry is ably assisted here by a sweet five-voice choir of friends.
"Orion" is an uptempo ode to the mythical celestial hunter of ancient Greek fame. It features energetic Indigo Girl style rhythms and female background vocals.
"Can You See It?" melodically reminicent of the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" or "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" sings about the mystic sound that binds all creation and all life. Jim Queen's violin work on this tune is exceptional.
Most of the song arrangements on the CD are embellishments of simpler ones that I have heard Larry perform live- like "Everything I Have" a pure, honest ballad about generosity and sharing. In the live version, it ends with an unexpected, unresolved guitar chord that I love. In places on the CD the tunes are perhaps over-arranged, but people who are new to Larry's tunes probably won't notice.
Along with thousands of others, I've been enjoying Larry Siegel's music for many years as I walk the spiritual path. His new CD "Songs from the 3rd Octave" is a fine collection of soulful, traveling music that is sure to please all the rhythmic mystics out there as well as attract a new crop of music fans who like their spirituality with a beat.
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