This is knotty, relatively diverse 21st century prog. Like much 21st century prog it’s filtered through at least some musical innovations that occurred after the first wave of prog rock, though that depends on the song. “Soothsayer,” for example, feels more traditional to me, a little more like the neo prog of the ’90s.
The tracks run into each other (at least a little bit) which makes for a pretty engrossing experience. I actually thought the album was shorter than it actually is because, for me, a recovering prog fan, it just flies by with seemingly no breaks.
The instrumentation is pretty diverse, as are the tracks. I think it’s all the one guy, which makes it more impressive. The piano solo piece in the middle is the kind of fresh spin on this genre I appreciate. Though it might alienate some – as it’s totally out of character with the rest of the music – it feels modern enough (in terms of its harmonies) to belong. (Imagine Wakeman inserting something like this into a Yes album. I feel like it would be a lot more of a pastiche of baroque and/or romantic.) I also like the basically folk intro to that other song, and “folk” in a much more modern sense of the word, nothing twee. It also feels like something most neo-prog bands wouldn’t include.
Epworth’s lyrics feel more modern, too, which is nice. One off-putting feature of much prog is the lyrics are often, um, not great. Or dated to a particular time. Too often when I listen to Neo Prog I feel like the lyricist just worships Jon Anderson or Peter Gabriel and isn’t writing his (inevitably his) own lyrics.
The production is clean but the mix is good – the right instruments are in front and everything is appropriately audible. I could use a few rougher edges but I realize that’s not really a thing for most musicians in this world.
I enjoyed it.