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Clark’s Secret Identity: The Promise of a Wonderful Future (2016)

US threesome CLARK’S SECRET IDENTITY first appeared as a recording unit back towards the end of 2015 with a self-titled EP. The band got a favorable reception for this production, and started to work on their debut album fairly soon after this. “The Promise of a Wonderful Future” is the name of this CD, which was self-released in the early winter of 2016.

I recall being rather positive about the first EP by this band. Not the most advanced of productions, but an EP that despite some shortcoming here and there did come with a hopeful promise of just as good thing coming down the road, so to speak. In my view the band have taken a step back with this debut album however, which only rarely manage to intrigue as much as that initial EP.

CSI does sport some rather tasteful elements to their power trio sound. The guitar sound in particular is one that I find appealing, the core mode being a vintage-sounding guitar tone that would have been a perfect fit for a 70’s oriented blues rock or blues based hard rock band, and indeed also providing many of the tracks here with a blues rock oriented edge. More elegant varieties with more of a jazz-tinged expression appear here and there too, and there’s a liberal use of funk-tinged modes of delivery throughout as well.

The songs themselves doesn’t quite manage to appeal in the same manner however. A weakness also on the initial EP was that some of the songs came across as rather too pedestrian, which is also the case here. In this case some of the tracks appears to lack cohesion as well, feeling forced rather than flowing more naturally. Many of the songs has a feeling of being underdeveloped and sketchy, especially in the verse and chorus sections. I do wonder how many of them that have been properly vetted in practice sessions or live on stage, as quite a few just don’t manage to grab my attention and too often feel strained. Part of this may be that quite a few of the songs rely heavily on the lead vocals in key sequences, and while lead vocalist Anthony does have a fine voice, it does come across as rather untrained. Which in this specific context does have a rather detrimental effect.

In one case the band does rise to the occasion however. An Indecent Solution is a track that, in my view at least, stands heads and shoulders over the others on this CD. The vocals suit this song much better, the song itself has an intriguing and appealing development, and the elongated instrumental section that concludes this fine composition is arguably the finest moment of this band so far in their relatively brief history.

Structurally and in delivery the band hovers around the borderlands between blues based hard rock and progressive rock, with a wee few touches of jazz thrown into the mix for goods measure. While the album as such indicates a band that still needs to hone their craft, they have quite a few pleasant tunes as well, and in the case of the aforementioned An Indecent Solution they also manage to showcase the greater majority of their strong points in a manner that should have a broader appeal.

All in all my point of view is that this debut album by Clark’s Secret Identity has too many weak points however. There are some fine songs here, and a very good one as mentioned in some detail, but by and large the shortcomings will limit it’s appeal. Still, those with an interest in a power trio, still very much in development, that has a vintage sound and with a style that hovers on the borderlands of vintage blues based hard rock and contemporary progressive rock, then this US threesome may be one worth getting more familiar with. As I have met these guys, and their drummer Matthew is a person I regard as a friend, I have to admit that I had very much hoped that my conclusion would be on a more positive note.

My rating: 6/10

Track list:
Dolce Vita; Laughing Stock Nemesis; Opacity; Oblivious; Into a Thousand Pieces; An Indecent Solution; To Those Still Grieving; The Unwanted; Down at Ridley Park; Gas Station Heroes

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