Jay Graboski - 2023 - Authentic Fake

(77:11; Oho Music)

Track list:
1. In Dotage 3:55
2. Season of Extremes 3:54
3. 28721 3:38
4. Dot on Your Door 4:55
5. Die Before You Die 4:00
6. Hidden Agenda 4:43
7. Out on a Limb 3:58
8. Mired in Malaise? 3:00
9. Cosmos of the Soul 3:51
10. The Hours 5:32
11. Frog Legs 2:41
12. Metaphors 3:28
13. The Witness Watchers 3:41
14. Authentic Fake 3:05
15. Your Luck is Awake 4:43
16. The Crown 3:51
17. The Doomed Princess 4:01
18. St. Judas 4:12
19. Where Words Do Not Reach 3:28
20. Well, I'll Be 2:35

Jay Graboski - vocals, guitars, bass, percussion, glockenspiel
Dale German - guitars
Ray Jozwiak - accordion, keyboards, bass, Moog
Dave Kelly - guitars, programming, keyboards, percussion
Julie Keough - backing vocals
Harry Maben - drums
Patrick McAvinue - fiddle
Gene Meros - saxophones
Bill Phelan - backing vocals, guitars, mandolin, recorder
Bill Pratt - keyboards, backing vocals, horn arrangements
David Reeve - drums, percussion, keyboards
Gyro J. Scope - sequencing

US composer and musician Jay Graboski has a career that goes back several decades, and has been a member of many different bands over the years, and among those with an interest in progressive rock it will be the band Oho that will be most prominent among those many band tenures. If Graboski has ever released any solo albums in earlier years I do not know, at least I can't find any indications of that online. But this year he is out with a solo album. The name of this creation is "Authentic Fake", and it was released on the label Oho Music following a 7 year long gestation process.

Categorizing the music on this album is an interesting case, as the compositions here by and large are a bit off kilter and a bit removed from the more ordinary categorizations of music. I guess rock music will suffice as far as a general categorization goes, and that the music is art oriented probably merits a mention too. If the material will be deemed as being inside of a progressive rock tradition is a subject open to debate though, as I know people that most certainly would place this album inside this category but also just as many people that would be vehemently opposed to that notion. But this is music that will be of interest for many fans of progressive rock, whether classified as such or not.

For my sake I had one distinct association that came with the majority of the songs here, and one that for me is an interesting one because I don't encounter all that many albums that lead my thoughts in that specific direction. The mainly calm and thoughtful manner in which these landscapes are explored, the recurring use of the piano as a provider of gentle motifs, the occasional use of psychedelic instrument details and the ongoing presence of quirky, off kilter and subtly unusual developments and effects, along with the tone and timbre of the lead vocals, all made me think about the band Blue Oyster Cult. While Graboski's material isn't directly comparable in form and style, there is something about the approach, the tone of the songs, the mood, atmosphere and to some extent the execution that have certain similar traits. BOC have been described as being the thinking man's hard rock, and occasionally being described as progressive rock too, and Graboski's material on this album can be described in a bit of a similar manner I suspect, albeit perhaps with rock instead of hard rock as the style description.

Where Graboski and BOC part ways are in the form and the style though. What sounds like brass details and saxophones adds a bit of a soul dimension to many of the tracks, and arguably a little bit of jazz on a couple of occasions too. Various aspects from the Americana tradition makes relatively frequent appearances on the songs here too, either as subtle instrument or melody details or in a bit more overt manner like the use of what sounds very much like lap steel on some songs. I also get the feeling that the songs on this album in general are far more down to Earth in many ways, at least most of the time. Graboski as a solo artist doesn't come across as the musician that would create an ode to the golden age of leather or sing his tributes to fictional monsters of Japanese origin, to put it that way. At least if the material on this album is indicative of how his creative mind works.

I find this album to be a competent and enjoyable production on all levels, and a good quality production in general. I also regard this album as a fairly timeless one: While there are other albums I encounter that are very much a product of their time, this is an album that will sound just as good 30 years from now as it does today I suspect.

Jay Graboski's solo album "Authentic Fate" is a subtly quirky rock album that comes with ties towards progressive rock both by association and by means of the landscapes explored. Whether the songs as such fit into the progressive rock category will be a matter of subjective opinion, but I do suspect that the material here will be of interest to many progressive rock fans. If a subtly quirky variety of music with some tendencies similar to a band like Blue Oyster Cult but with a more mellow expression and some additional Americana and soul details strikes you as something that sounds interesting, chances are that you'll find this album to be a rather interesting one I suspect.

Olav "Progmessor" Björnsen



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