2016 / Marc Enfroy
Review by Kathy Parsons
Crossroads is the fifth album from pianist/composer/multi-instrumentalist Marc Enfroy and is by far his most dramatic music yet! Like his 2008 debut album, Unbounded, the inspiration for Crossroads emerged from tragedy and turmoil in the artist’s life and a need to express those emotions and work through them. To say that the music on Crossroads is intense and powerful is an enormous understatement! It is impossible to categorize this album into one genre, as Enfroy combines strong elements of rock, classical, cinematic, prog rock, and pop vocals to the point where all of those lines are completely blurred (LOVE IT!!!). It is an unfortunate truth that often an artist’s greatest work arises from life’s most challenging and painful experiences, and that seems to be the case here. You can’t fake the emotions expressed in this music. Although each of the songs is a complete entity, the album should be listened to from start to finish to experience the intensity of the whole story. I can guarantee Crossroads will be on my list of Favorites for the year!
The production quality of Crossroads is exceptional, thanks in large part to the mixing and mastering genius of Corin Nelsen. Three songs feature poetic lyrics by Paul Enfroy sung by Aili Lane and Lila Ives - both powerhouse vocalists. Marc Enfroy performs on piano, virtual instruments, and rhythm guitar. Several tracks also feature Jan Sullins on violin, Sarah Cleveland on cello, and Ken Taylor on lead and rhythm guitar. The sixteen tracks include instrumental versions of the three vocal tracks and a new version of the title track from Unbounded, Enfroy’s most popular piece on Pandora.
Crossroads opens with the title track, a piece that expresses turmoil, confusion, and despair. It begins as a piano solo, but quickly builds to full symphonic intensity, ending abruptly. “Toxic” swirls with a dark magic that envelops the listener in mystery and something evil and dangerous. If you aren’t completely hooked yet, “Your Silence Is a Razor” should do the trick. Aili Laine’s powerful vocals express the agony of being shut out of a relationship gone bad. The lyrics pack an emotional wallop, so be sure to check them out in the liner notes. While achingly beautiful, “Sepia” gives the listener a chance to catch his or her breath. Piano, cello, violin and wordless vocals express sadness, but is more pensive. “Fading White” is the second vocal piece, this time with Lila Ives in the lead, pouring out the emotions of a broken heart and dreams destroyed. “Shed My Skin” is perhaps the most dramatic piece on the album. The lyrics are incredible and Lila Ives’ voice has the passion and power required to fully express them. Strong symphonic and rock influences make it a stand-out. After the swirling emotions of that song comes Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” played as a (digital) piano solo, renamed “Moonlight Obsession” - a cooling breath of fresh air! In total contrast to that is “Wildfire Rising,” a cello/piano/rock guitar tour de force that will again leave you breathless. “In That Moment” brings us to the turning point where decisions are made and the turbulence starts calming. The new version of “Unbounded” expresses relief and feelings of moving forward. Wow! What a ride!
As sorry as I am that Marc Enfroy had to endure such a difficult time in his life, he has taken that experience and created a masterpiece in Crossroads. This is one of those albums that quickly becomes addicting. It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby, and I give it my highest recommendation!
August 20, 2016
Review by Michael Debbage