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Published: 2002/07/23
by Pat Buzby

self-titled – Moses Guest

Aufheben Records 6 16493 00332 1

For a group which turns out to be not much more than your typical
neighborhood jamband, Moses Guest have some smarts. This CD set kept me
listening for more than 30 consecutive minutes on its first spin, a rare
feat for an unfamiliar band. One reason, I admit, is the packaging, the
most elaborate faux-Old South job I've seen since Elton John's Tumbleweed
Connection, which, along with the first cut, led me to think that this
might be a conceptual set about the American Revolution soldier who is this
band's namesake. (Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case.) As
well, the sheer audacity of putting out a studio double CD grabbed my

Unfortunately, this group could have applied their smarts more thoroughly to
the music itself. A major sore point here is that twelve of the seventeen
cuts exceed five minutes, with five of them pushing past nine, and not
because of very much hot jamming or elaborate composition. Too often, the
band includes endless reiterations of commonplace four-bar progressions, and
inserts brief bursts of soloing that distract from the drama of the songs
rather than heightening it. For instance, "Rag Doll" could have been a
radio contender if the band had allotted it its deserved four minutes rather
than letting it meander past ten. "Cellophane Man" has an arresting chorus
and some intriguing lyrics about a high school stud turned potential
suicide, but the reggaefied wah wah bass break near the end seems more like
a silly jamband trick than anything relating to the business at hand.

This is too bad, because in other respects these guys might be ready to make
a contribution. Frontman Graham Guest is a hot guitarist as well as a
capable singer/songwriter, and Rick Thompson knows his way around his analog
multi-keyboard setup. The band sounds a bit like every jamband you might
like, combining the rustic flavorings of the Allmans with some of the DMB's
pop sensibilities.

On the evidence at hand, Moses Guest are talented, but need to apply some
concision to make a more focused statement. However, that may have meant
doing away with the audacity which initially got my attention. In art, as
in life, there are always tradeoffs.

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