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J C CINEL Before My Eyes
Black Widow Records (2008)

J.C. Cinel is an Italian singer song writer with a solid rock history behind him including stints with The Air - a Styx influenced band - with a penchant for melodic West Coast influenced soft Country Rock. So far so good, but unlike his influences which range from Neil Young and The Doobie Brothers to Tom Petty, JC doesn't quite have the songs to emulate his musical influences.

That is not to say that 'Before My Eyes' doesn't have its moments, indeed JC lays out his deck of musical cards impressively on the opening Neil Young style harp intro of 'Ships in the Wind' on which all the core elements of elemental harmonies, country tinged rock, imperious slide and acoustic guitar are all well to the front of the mix. But like much of the material here there's a feeling that he's trying to hard to cover too many musical genres.

The Allman Brothers guitar intro to 'Feel the Moment' for example, fails to develop into something more substantial, while the title track although a nicely crafted slice of Pop Rock is sorely in need of a good hook.

The best moments come on the slightly more abrasive 'Brushing Cymbals' which features a filtered voice, some deft wah wah and a cool rock arrangement, while the stripped down 'Voices From Nowhere' is an impressive piece for voice, acoustic guitar and tablas.

A simpler arrangement also marks out the closing 'Taking Chances' as one of the better efforts. But too often JC's talent is sidelined by songs such as 'Alone in the Dark', which although well intentioned, well played and in fact superbly sung Country Rock, is too lyrically and structurally formulaic. There's also an awkward bridge that renders the song short of the kind of quality that sets bands like America and The Eagles apart. In short an enjoyable but highly derivative and somewhat unchallenging CD.


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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