Review Summary: the kind of album to rock in a rocking chair to (minus the rocking).
When The Tea Party disbanded in 2005 due to creative differences, the band's lead singer, Jeff Martin, got to initiate his solo career. In his career, he would release his first solo album (2006), create a band called The Armada (2009), and then go back to release his second solo album, The Ground Cries Out
. It took him five years to create this album, and thus the obvious question is whether or not it was worth the wait. However, the answer to that is somewhat complicated (hence this review).
The Ground Cries Out
will surely receive comparisons to The Tea Party’s music. Jeff was the soul of the band, after all, and his unnatural obsession with Middle Eastern melodies and instrumentation propelled them forward. One might imagine, therefore, that his solo music would be Middle Eastern based, but this is only partially the case. The Ground Cries Out
may be a mystically influenced folk rock/rock record like The Edges of Twilight
(The Tea Party’s classic album), but the influence is only obvious in half of the songs. This album is definitely uniquely Jeff, to state the obvious. Songs like ‘The Ground Cries Out’ and ‘She’s Leaving’ are, perhaps, the only songs that bare strong similarities to the band. The rest of the album is dedicated to folksy rock with a strong emphasis on acoustic guitars. Its mellowness isn’t that much of a stretch, but one cannot help longing for the crunch of electric riffs. We’re teased with them in the final song, ‘The Pyre’, but it’s too little too late. I’m not suggesting that his unique musical style is wrong, or that the absence of electric guitars makes the music worse - I’m merely suggesting that it isn’t as engaging as it potentially could be.
Even when the album is at its most explosive, it never rocks as hard as a The Tea Party album. Perhaps it’s just as well that The Tea Party have rejoined recently, because Jeff’s projects were never going to reach the heights of his old band. At best this feels like a precursor to the band’s next album (if one is made), and at worst it’s an exercise in recycling old ideas. The album is of course decent due to Jeff’s veteran experience with creating music, but it should mostly appeal to hardcore fans of his works. For now, we can only hope that The Tea Party will create new music soon.