Randy McStine – Idle (Album Review)

Review of the new Randy McStine collection “Idle”.

If you follow enough modern prog rock, you have surely seen the name Randy McStine pop up one more than one occasion.  Whether he is opening for Flying Colors or The Pineapple Thief (he is on a US tour with them now), or playing with Dave Kerzner in the band In Continuum, or his own projects like The Fringe with Nick D’Virgilio and Jonas Reingold, McStine is one of the busiest and respected guitarists and vocalists in prog today.  Over the last year, he has been releasing new material song by song, as it has been completed. The result has been some of his best solo work.  Now, he has put together all of this material in the 2cd collection called ‘Idle’.

Disc 1 is comprised of the fully-arranged and produced studio tracks with some notable collaborators like Nick D’Virgilio and Craig Blundell, with whom he has also worked with in the past.  The first two track showcase an artist that is not to be confined to one sound, from the atmospheric and electronic opener “Sun In My Eyes” to the heavy blues rocker “Bottom Feed Blues”.  “Before” lies back in the prog rock lane with wonderful vocal harmonies, while the title track is a captivating acoustic track.

Other highlights include the experimental “Drone” and the explosive rock track “Rising”.  There are some outstanding guitar and vocal moments layered throughout these 10 songs.  While they were not intended originally to be in an album, these tracks seem like they were meant to be together and make for an intriguing and cohesive collection of well-crafted and dynamic material.

Disc 2, recorded on his phone with simply an acoustic and his voice is equally spectacular.  Just listen to the first song “Send Your Light” and you can realize why he can tour by himself and captivate an audience.  There are a couple of alternate versions of songs from disc 1, but most of the material is made of up other original material performed raw and emotional.  “Adopted Son” is a beautiful ballad while “The Choice” is a simpler song with McStine strumming along while letting his voice shine. Meanwhile, “Real” has an incredible guitar solo breakdown. To mix things up, McStine even performs a 13 minute experimental noise track called “Skrol”.

McStine is an extremely talented musician who seems to be figuring out what he wants to sounds like, and is happy to let us into the process.  And that is what makes this collection so engaging.  This is definitely an album worth checking out.

https://www.randymcstine.bandcamp.com/

1.Sun In My Eyes 04:32
2.Bottom Feeder Blues 03:37
3.Before 04:34
4.Idle 03:05
5.Who To Avoid 03:50
6.Drone 05:38
7.Go On Now 05:10
8.Standby 02:28
9.Prayer 05:48
10.Rising 03:48
11.Send Your Light 05:37
12.Bottom Feeder Blues 03:41
13.Adopted Son 05:59
14.Your Offenses 03:35
15.The Choice 04:57
16.Real 09:44
17.I Did Not Reply (Asinine) 06:08
18.Hitting The Ground 03:46
19.Before 04:58
20.Skrol 13:20
21.Close Enough 04:07

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