"Voyager" is the next step in the musical evolution of talented multi-instrumentalist Cailyn Lloyd, following her re-invention on the stellar 2012 symphonic/prog instrumental "Four Pieces".
My introduction to the music of Cailyn Lloyd was on the hard-driving 2009 album "True Lies And Other Fairy Tales" by the duo Cailyn/Dani. The duo consisted of Dani Daily (lead vocals) and Cailyn Lloyd who masterfully performed the lion's share of instrumental duties on guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, and programming.
"True Lies And Other Fairy Tales" was a raucous collection of five cover tunes from Kansas ("Portrait"), ELP ("Still You Turn Me On"), Aerosmith ("Dream On"), Jimi Hendrix ("The Wind Cries Mary"), and Stevie Winwood ("Can't Find My Way") - as well as four original rockers penned by Cailyn/Dani. My initial impression was that their time and talent had been wasted in the studio recording cover material since it was their four original tunes which proved to be the highlight of the album.
It's long been my contention that performing cover tunes for club dates and bar gigs is expected - and selling a CD of such material after your performance is an additional source of income - but cover tunes are best left for 'All-Star' tribute compilation albums and not as your band's introduction to the music buying public. Comparisons to the original are inevitable, seldom favorable, and the best compliment you can hope to receive is 'great cover band'. And for the new artists attempting to expand beyond local cult status and the bar circuit - 'a great cover band'- is not a successful marketing strategy when promoting a new album. Originality, on the other hand ... is.
Anyone listening to the Cailyn/Dani original tunes "Heartland", "Lady Kicks Ax", "Heading West", and "Road Not Taken" can't help but walk away from the experience thinking ... "Great tunes. That's one hell of a band".
The 2012 release "Four Pieces" saw Cailyn transition from the conventional high energy rock and roll of "True Lies And Other Fairy Tales" to more sophisticated classical symphonic rock arrangements. Eschewing vocals to concentrate solely on instrumental presentation.
On her latest work "Voyager", Cailyn achieves an even greater level of sophistication and complexity in her compositions as she reaches out to the infinite cosmos, presenting an interstellar aural travelogue guided by the solar winds and inspired by the seeing eye of the VOYAGER 1 space probe.
Cailyn reinterprets movements such as "Jupiter", "Saturn", "Uranus", and "Neptune" from "The Planets" suite by composer Gustav Holst, then expands her area of exploration with a series of new compositional tone poems, ethereal soundscapes, and a dazzling display of progressive metal arrangements to capture the awe and majesty of "IO" and "Europa" (moons of Jupiter), "Titan" and "Enceladus" (moons of Saturn), "Miranda" and "Ariel" (moons of Uranus), and "Triton" (the largest moon of Neptune). The track "Pale Blue Dot" is inspired by a photograph of our own Earth taken by VOYAGER I in 1990 from a distance of 3.7 billion miles in space. And her musical sojourn fittingly concludes with the track "Heliopause", the terminology suggesting the theoretical boundary between the solar system and interstellar space.
Cailyn Lloyd is a guitar virtuoso, adept at any genre from speed metal to classical, jazz fusion and blues to medieval baroque. With the flip of a switch she can unleash the pyrotechnic fretboard gymnastics of John Petrucci or Alex Lifeson, segue into the technical fusion of Alan Holdsworth, incorporate the soulful blues of Eric Clapton, and conclude with the ethereal passion of a Steve Hackett solo.
And Cailyn is equally at home behind the keyboards with shades of Tony Banks (his chunky chords and delicate piano interludes), and the furious arpeggios of the likes of Jordan Rudess, Derek Sherinian, Patrick Moraz, Clive Nolan, and Keith Emerson.
"Voyager" is essential listening for the instrumental prog/rock aficionado, and a will appeal to both fans of the symphonic progressive groups like The Enid, Craft, Karda Estra, Larry Fast & Synergy, Sky, ELP, The Inner Road, and Solaris, as well as instrumental prog/metal artists like Jordan Rudess, Derek Sherinian, and Adrian Galysh.
The complete line-up on "Voyager" includes: Cailyn Lloyd (guitars, bass, keyboards, synthesizers, drums, percussion), Neil Holloman (drums), Deryn Cullen (cello), and Nancy Rumbel (English horn), and Ian east (sax).
A serious contender for Best Instrumental Prog/Rock Album Of 2014.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on March 15th, 2015