Mike Prete    07-September-2001 Beauty Gone Wild

A concept album! It must be prog! In a way, this is true, but Beauty Gone Wild eschews the typical pitfalls of the oft-clichéd concept album. Based on twelve different wild flowers, each is aurally personified, capturing the environmental feel of the flowers. A classically trained keyboardist, Waybright is first and foremost a floral artist, and with this album, combines both her passions successfully.

The music is reminiscent of Happy the Man; new agey, serene, yet always with a solid, bouncy feel to propel the music along. Not surprising, Stan Whittaker, Rick Kennel and Ron Riddle are the other prominent instrumentalists here, with a few guests on reeds and percussion. Forming a more than competent background, the HtM members are not the main stars here; Waybright is clearly in control and is the main force in the proceedings. Digital keys are the main focus, but she uses nice and safe timbres, avoiding the cheese factor.

Waybright does a wonderful job of illustrating each flower in song. As can be expected, tracks like "African Violet" contain tribal-like percussion and a few overlaid jungle sounds. "Birds of Paradise" brings to mind a steamy Malaysian jungle, with more ethnic percussion and echoed sounds of birdcalls overhead. The majestic "Forget-Me-Not" closes the album with great synth lines and some excellent acoustic guitar.

A peaceful and beautiful album, Beauty Gone Wild provides a nice outlet from the typical bombast of symphonic prog. To top off the exquisite music, the album comes with a small, hardcover book featuring painted scenes involving each flower, and a brief history of the flower written by Waybright. Like an Impressionist painting, Beauty Gone Wild will absorb you in that vaguely familiar texture.

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