Ed Layne is a one-man band, a multi-instrumentalist of the hard rock/blues persuasion hailing from Northern California. His voice is rather reminiscent of Neil Young but from the numerous meaty riffs present on these songs, you can tell Ed is a major fan of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. As you listen to these five tracks, prog-rock influences such as Yes and Rush emerge through the more sophisticated touches and epic structures.
Sea Is Raging is the shortest of the five at nearly five minutes, but is quite an epic in itself. The music mirrors the title perfectly, a veritable tsunami of sound cooked up by a wall of heavy guitars and drums, contrasted nicely by Layne’s voice. The lyrics are suitably apocalyptic and seem to be about the dark times the world is going through, but with a sense of perspective: “In a hundred years this won’t matter much, its just another generation that’s out of touch…”.
The modulation at around the three-minute mark is something you wouldn’t find in standard blues-rock and there is none of the self-indulgent lead guitar noodling some associate with this genre. Every solo is effective and tightly constructed, always adding to the music. Second track Keep on Rolling is a stark contrast, a mid-paced country rock ballad that show’s Layne’s gentler side and is another well-crafted track, with nice acoustic guitar work.
Third track Five Days From Home blends the style of the first two tracks, starting with a Stairway To Heaven type acoustic section then exploding into another colossal riff and climaxing with another enjoyable Tony Iommi-style solo. Tracks four and five, Maple Street and Vicious Circle, are both great upbeat rockers featuring some fantastically mellifluous guitar runs. Virtuosity nearly always seems to go hand in hand with the desire to ‘show off’, but Ed always plays for the song, not his ego.
Overall, these five songs comprise an extremely enjoyable half hour of carefully crafted rock music that melds its influences into something potent, breathing some new life into a genre that some feel has ‘all been done’. By taking the best elements of his favourite bands and adding his own twist, Ed Layne has shown that rock is far from dead and I’d recommend that everyone should check out his music, and turn up the volume.
Verdict: 8.5 out of 10