I enjoyed ESP’s debut album Invisible Din, so when they asked me to review their sophomore album, the recently released 22 Layers Of Sunlight, I was more than happy to do so. For this latest release the ESP 2.0 line-up once again includes composer and producer Tony Lowe (guitars and keyboards) and drummer Mark Brzezicki. New for this album are lyricist and vocalist Peter Coyle, Pete Clark on bass and Richard Smith, keyboards on selected tracks.
This band creates the perfect soundscapes with which to enjoy relaxing by the fireside on a chilly day, or closing your eyes and dreaming by the beach. The music is the type you can easily get lost within to feel relaxed and calm, evident immediately as God Of Denial opens the album with that deep step back to Pink Floyd, music many of us grew up with. Coyle’s vocals sound much like Roger Waters here, and the perfect keyboard work will have you immediately reminiscing. The best song on the album… out front. Algorithm, the second-best track, is full of Phil Collins’ drumming references and will bring In The Air Tonight to mind, along with other favourites from Collins’ solo catalogue. You can tell that Brzezicki has learned well from the drum master.
The title track 22 Layers Of Sunlight is another fantastic piece, full of interesting vocals and deep, well-played original keyboard sounds and tunnels of synthesizer that will delight any keyboard fan. Brzezicki’s drumming powerfully drives and along with the bass and lead guitar work compliment the walls of sound. Similarly, Ride Through Reality is another fun keyboard adventure that will keep your mind well entertained, Brzezicki’s drumming once again giving the incredible guitar work and keys a run for their money.
Elsewhere, Smiling Forever will have you doing just that, especially if you enjoy walls of keyboard sounds and extended guitar solos, as I do. Butterfly Suite opens out, just like a butterfly, with wonderful electric guitar, deep bass, enchanting keys, soft drums and cymbals, whereas Sensual Earth is a little heavier, still full of fantastic key arrangements and perfect vocals, and when the keyboards and instrumental section takes over there’s a very Alan Parsons feel, another track that will bring back fond memories.
Gunshot Lips is a cool, darker track full of great drums, unique guitar and bass sounds surrounded by voluminous keyboards. That just leaves us with The Ballad of Broken Hearts, a great album closer set to those thunderous drums with great bass and many interesting guitar improvisations. Coyle’s vocals sound a little like Steve Hackett’s on this track.
This is another wonderful release from Tony Lowe and ESP. There’s not a track on 22 Layers Of Sunlight that did not sound perfect or had any missing notions. Please keep sending the new albums Tony!
01. God Of Denial (8:03)
– a) The Code
02. Algorithm (4:06)
03. 22 Layers Of Sunlight (6:24)
04. Ride Through Reality (3:56)
05. Smiling Forever (6:35)
06. Butterfly Suite (9:04)
– a) Don’t Let Go
– b) Caught In The Net
– c) Travelling Light
07. Sensual Earth (7:44)
08. Gunshot Lips (7:28)
09. The Ballad Of Broken Hearts (6:40)
Total Time – 60:00
Tony Lowe – Guitar, Keyboards
Peter Coyle – Vocals
Mark Brzezicki – Drums
Pete Clark – Bass
Richard Smith – Keyboards (on select tracks)
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 20th April 2018