Written by Jason Snyder, posted by blog admin
Draped in mystery and mystique, singer/guitarist/composer Thomas Abban offers up a sweeping, cinematic record in the tradition of excellent 70s album oriented rock. All of the songs are strong with numerous musical elements to enjoy but the record is best enjoyed from start to finish.
Abban goes all over the map stylistically, lending his debut A Sheik’s Legacy a progressive rock feel while almost entirely avoiding the bloated trappings of said genre. Opener “Death Song” is a blissful exploration of folky acoustic guitar, near falsetto vocals and surprising explosions of heavy riffage and pounding drumming. The daring experimentalism works and never feels forced or contrived. “Symmetry and Black Tar” flirts with exotic Eastern modes and frenetic time changes; classical strings colliding with brazen 70s hard rock in a way that almost feels like a lost art coming back to life. Blues riff-heavy blasters “Fear” and “Aladdin” shudder with meat n’ potatoes rhythms and powder keg guitar work sure to please fans of Led Zeppelin and even Cream.
Elegant flamenco guitars, whistling melodies and an acoustic/electric balance keep “Time to Think” straddling several different fences without ever choosing a side (to the song’s benefit). “Horizons” is almost entirely acoustic with a soft rhythmic background; horns and flutes further establishing Abban’s taste for varied instrumental textures. The singer’s voice goes from a whisper to a caterwaul on the neoclassical string-enhanced folk heard on “Sinner,” a tune that pairs well with its gravel road, acoustic blues follow-ups “Don’t You Stay the Same” and “Let Me Tell You Something.”
The album’s final third is rife with numerous different feelings, moods and textures. The poppy “Irene” presents infectious verse/chorus vocal melodies atop a bed of gentle acoustics and tapping snare drums, “Lord” treads back towards stripped down blues turf, “Uh” unleashed a downright brutal blues crawl full of grinding riff-y power chords, “Echo” takes the aggressive rock route but presents it in an almost entirely acoustic fashion, “Black Water” is another tightrope rock between heavy groove and soft layers with excellent keyboard enhancement and another Eastern ethnic vibe while closer “Born of Fire” winds through Hendrix-esque psychedelic rock fury and hand percussion for a lush, trippy endnote that drags the album back into the ether from whence it came.
A Sheik’s Legacy is a powerful piece of writing, playing and production that firmly cements Thomas Abban as a musical visionary and an artist to watch out for. Most musicians could only dream of producing a first record this darn good but Abban pulls it off and makes it look easy. Featuring one shining gem of songwriting bravado after another, the album’s 15 tracks are all hits and no misses; an astounding feat from start to finish and an album well-worth a look for hardened rock n’ roll aficionados.