Data Design Group

ROOT - Illumination
Reviewed by Chris Goodall

Track Listing:

  • Wishing Man (5.55)
  • Anything (5.06)
  • The Meaning (5.07)
  • Healing in Me (6.17)
  • Sometimes (4.25)
  • Anymore (4.09)
  • The Most (5.36)
  • Always (5.45)
  • My Pride (5.00)
  • No Mercy (9.40)
  • Younger (4.43)
  • Boy Genius (5.38)

Illumination is the fifth album of Root, or should I say, David Kendall. For those not in the know, David Kendall is the genius behind the Root project. Not only does he write, compose and perform every track (all the instruments and vocals), he also produces and even creates the cover art!

David is based in Leicester, UK and has produced here a fine progressive rock album in a mellow vein, which, with 12 excellent tracks provides real value for money! I asked David about his influences " I think it's difficult for me to state who has the most influence. Pink Floyd, Spocks Beard, Dream Theater, Rush, Yes, Marillion, Kansas and Peter Gabriel are probably the most influential in sounds and arrangement, but I really just let my songs evolve until they sound right to me" which explains a great deal about the Root sound!

David decided to go it alone as he 'got tired of tyring to find like-minded and dedicated musicians'. Obviously, this has caused problems when it comes to performing live, however David commented ' I think I have now established my own identity and if I can find a way of playing live again, but staying faithful to the albums, I will definitely be doing it'.

The album kicks off with Wishing Man, an upbeat, melodic rock song. I was hooked from the first power chord and the funky bass line. This is possibly the first time in my life I have thought about the bands King and Queen in the same phrase! Some fine guitar work late on moves the track into a more modern era of prog. Lovely!

Anything has a much mellower pace, which is more representative of the whole album. Here we can see David's harmonized vocals and composition shine, along with a stunning guitar solo to round off the track.

The Meaning reminded me greatly of later Genesis 'pop-rock' works. In fact, this is the kind of single I'd be happy to hear on any radio station whilst driving. This is a track worthy of more airplay.

Healing in Me ... shocked me somewhat. A great ballad  ... at this point in the album I have to step back and ask myself how this guy can do all this alone!  Very prog-worthy keyboards and guitars.

Sometimes is again a melancholic track. Fine acoustic guitar ... once again fine vocal harmonies. I am starting to get very jealous of David now !

Anymore has a more pop-rock radio sound. Synth generated strings, simple rock ballad lyrics and then some fine guitar work to round off the track.

The Most kicks off with some fine keyboards ... leading into soft vocals. Once again, the guitars shine late on.  The solo kicks in around 3.10, firstly acoustic (near Spanish) and then goes electric around 4.00 with a very Gilmour-esque sound and emotion ... Genesis fans, check this out.

Always is a great track albeit a bit mysterious and mystical. David once again shows his talent for layered vocals and superb acoustic guitar playing. The intensity of this tracks shows well with a dark room, a large glass of red wine and the headphones on number 11.

My Pride is a truly beautiful number, slightly more upbeat than various tracks on the album. Barclay James Harvest and Yes spring to mind. I'm very glad I poured another glass and left the headphones out ... lovely.

No Mercy whilst difficult to choose a 'favourite track' from this album, I would probably choose this one. This is a well-rounded, classic progressive rock track. Floyd/Marillion/Yes combined ... yet a sole performer ... this album is certainly worth checking out for this track alone!

Younger came as a bit of a shock again ... the intro was quite Porcupine Tree. However, it soon came back to the 'Root' sound, the effects-laden guitar, keyboards and 'big' prog sound.

Boy Genius rounds off the album well with an upbeat rockier number and left me wanting more. Ah well, time to play the whole album again!

There are obvious comparisons to make here (Marillion, later-Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd even Barclay James Harvest). I asked David about his regular comparisons to Steve Hogarth of Marillion and whether this was annoying or a compliment: " BIG compliment, he is a truly fine, emotive singer. Singing is a very personal expression and any compliments always encourage me. Your own singing voice is the only one you can never judge, I always sound like me to me. I just attempt to convey as much of the feeling behind the words as I can. "

Thanks to David Kendall my faith in modern progressive music has been well and truly restored.

Absolutely superb compositions, musicianship and harmonized vocals throughout the entire album. This will certainly be high up on my regular play list.

Rating: 9/10

Note: David is currently working on the sixth Root album which will hopefully be released in the Spring of 2007, which has a different 'edge' to previous releases. Me, I can't wait!

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