Album Review: Rise Twain, “Rise Twain”

Philidelphia-based duo Rise Twain is composed of Brett William Kull (producer, audio engineer, and member of Echolyn, Grey Eye Glances, and Francis Dunnery’s New Progressives) and J.D. Beck (The Scenic Route, Beck-Fields, author & playwright). Kull and Beck described the songwriting on this album as serendipitous, and they have discussed in numerous interviews the relative ease by which these songs came together.

As a listener, I can hear what they’re talking about. This doesn’t sound like a debut album to me. The songs are powerful and have depth and character, and there is a level of synchronicity and comfort that they’ve achieved with their sound and composition that is readily apparent. Kull and Beck are obviously seasoned musicians and artists, but for a relatively new group, their sound is distinct and polished.

I was instantly grabbed by the album opener, “Everspring”. The lyrics are evocative and thoughtful, set to brooding and powerful chords and harmonies.

“Golden” is another track that showcases both members, with beautiful interplay between Kull and Beck’s voices.

Kull and Beck were recently interviewed by LouderThanSound, and did a track by track analysis, so if you’d like to better understand the stories told in the album, it’s an excellent resource (Click here to read the article).

As a fan of Kull’s work historically (with Echolyn) I knew that I’d like this album, but I was surprised at how much I ended up liking it. The melodies grabbed me and stuck with me, and they haven’t lost their power on subsequent listens. Though I think this album would do well with prog fans, I think it also has great crossover appeal to any fan of introspective, hook laden rock music. Kull himself pointed out that Beck’s voice and inflections are reminiscent of Jeff Buckley, and I think it’s a good comparison as far as timbre, but I think the music is also similar, to a degree. Buckley was a boundary pushing, progressive, innovative, and fearless artist, but the music always came first. On Rise Twain, there are layers of complexity with the instrumentation and arrangements, but they aren’t immediately noticeable, and they don’t distract or bog down the listener either.

Occasionally I hesitate to use the “progressive” label to describe a band or an album, just because I think for some it conjures up a very specific set of expectations.Regardless of labels and genres (which lose meaning with analysis), I think that Rise Twain is the type of music that I’d like to see as welcome under the progressive umbrella- thoughtful, melodic rock music with emotional and lyrical depth. I’d recommend this album to any fans of powerful, introspective rock music.

Rise Twain released their self titled debut album on September 6, 2019 through InsideOut Music. Buy it here.

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