Adrian Galysh is a Los Angeles based guitarist who has been working as an in-demand session player, being a sideman to guitar legends like Uli Jon Roth and Yngwie Malmsteen as well as producing his own rock guitar albums. To say this guy was off my radar is definitely an understatement. I’m from LA myself and actually saw Galysh at the House Of Blues at least 10 years ago and distinctly remember being underwhelmed by what I heard. Why? Hell if I know! Might have been that I was under the spell of the “faster is better” style of guitar players and Glaysh is decidedly a much more soulful player than of that ilk. So recently I got wind of his newest album Tone Poet and heard that it was a lot more of a progressive orchestral affair than his previous output so I gave it a listen and was pretty damned impressed. Not only by Galysh’s impassioned playing (on both electric and especially on acoustic guitar as well as some of the album’s bass work and keyboards) but also by his excellent and very diverse fusion of progressive rock, romantic classical, soulful instrumental rock and a good dose of world music to really give this album a great sense of balanced sophistication.
The album is comprised of 12 songs, plays over 50 minutes and has a great sense of pacing among the various styles Galysh employs (as a great example, a whole album of the few vocal rock cuts on Tone Poet would probably get a bit monotonous but here they work great as a contrast between the more proggier and orchestral sections on the album.) Tone Poet begins with the short album intro song, Resurrects which features a slow, beautiful electric guitar solo over a light orchestral backdrop (the piano playing is a wee bit schmaltzy here though) and a fun up-tempo vocal rock piece, Brick By Brick, sung by the great Mark Boals (who just released the newest progressive power opus with his band Ring Of Fire). This leads into the incredibly beautiful When You Fall which features some wonderful acoustic guitar underneath an impassioned vocal performance from Boals and builds dramatic tension until the end. In an earlier era, a song like this could easily have been a hit on FM radio (too bad those days are gone for pretty much every artist we cover here.) After another mid-tempo vocal rocker, Flying, we get the more dramatic Movie In My Mind (featuring a rather cinematic use of piano.)
After three vocal songs, Galysh flexes his orchestral muscles and brings back the progressive styles that he loves to work with. First on Luminae which has a dramatic fantasy movie-esque orchestral sound (complete with vocal choruses and harps) under which he can use his excellent command of guitar sonics (calling the album Tone Poet really seems to make sense the more I listen to it) and then on La Dolce Vita which features some pretty damned amazing Al DiMeola-esque staccato guitar. The album title track is surprisingly not a feature for electric guitar but is rather a harder driving almost fusion-esque piece featuring bass and acoustic guitar. Epoch is a short, very beautiful orchestral piece that really shows how well Galysh can write that kind of music and if this guy’s not writing film scores, he really should be. Echoes of El Greco is a glorious Spanish progressive metal instrumental that features some fantastic flamenco acoustic guitar and a rousing finish. Ur Of The Chaldees is another beautiful and rather intricate world-music influenced acoustic piece and feels like it would have been a great end to the album but instead Adrian finishes with the anthemic Spring (The Return) which I think is one of the weaker songs on the album but still has a rather nice dramatically effective guitar solo to close out this very diverse and accomplished album.
Tone Poet is definitely one of those albums where the sum is greater than the parts and the way the album flows across styles so effortlessly is one of its main strengths. The recording too is excellent – the punchiness of the drums really adds a lot to the dramatic impact here that Galysh has strived for. Honestly, maybe Adrian has matured as a player since I last saw him or maybe I have as a listener – I swear the older I get, the more I want a musician to touch my soul rather than my head and I definitely got that here. You can hear the entire Tone Poet album via the Spotify playlist below and you can also purchase a copy of the album via the Amazon.com link, also below.
Review by Jeff Stevens
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Adrian Galysh On Spotify
Adrian Galysh:Tone Poet – Album Purchase Link