Album Review: Tony Menown – Illumination

Tony Menown - Illumination

Illumination, the new album credited to the name of Springfield, Missouri-based composer Tony Menown, has potential to be submitted for one of the best releases to come out in 2020. A labour of love, Illumination  (whose title can be interpreted in many different ways) is one of those rare musical efforts that manage to sound like very little else. With derivative acts a dime a dozen on the current music scene, listening to such an album can be an exhilarating experience.

Unabashedly eclectic, Illumination can be described as a ‘protest album’, and with very good reason. However, it is first and foremost a collection of inspired, thought-provoking compositions performed by an amazingly talented, experienced musician. When such talent is put into play, the results may often be a tad underwhelming–especially when musicians forget that they are at the service of the music, and not the other way round.

Thankfully, this is not the case with Illumination. The impressive cohesion between all the different elements involved results in twelve tracks that display a remarkably original approach, even when external influences can be detected. While listening to the album for the first time, the closest comparison that came into my mind was with the late ‘70s– early 1990’s Pink Floyd, who are undoubtedly one of the band’s most noticeable sources of inspiration. In contrast with the majority of prog albums released in the past year or so, Illumination is based on relatively short compositions—and, indeed, half of the tracks are songs with a more or less ‘conventional’ verse-chorus-verse structure. The album might even be seen as a lesson on how to produce music that does not rely on 30-minute epics or convoluted concept stories in order to be progressive.

A masterful blend of mainstream sensibilities, socially-aware lyrics, intriguing atmospheres and stunning instrumental and vocal performances, this is a unique album that is warmly recommended to progressive music fans.

Grab Illumination from Amazon here.

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