CD: Sanctuary (Gentry Avenue Productions)
Home: Dallas, Texas
Quote: “It’s actually the instrumentation that really shines here. That is where the sanctuary is found in this extremely well-produced and orchestrated CD”.
By Les Reynolds
Inspirational/progressive rock group Vertical Leap has released an excellent 10-song CD (on Gentry Avenue Productions) that was obviously as much about the journey as the end result.
The Dallas-based band, headed up by George W. Mahn III, is simple in makeup as he’s joined only by bassist John Adams. George composed, arranged and produced the whole shebang while playing all guitars, synthesizers and singing.
This CD sets out in its intent to take the listener on a journey to the inner sanctuary — the listener’s own inner space to search for answers about all things spiritual, values and relationships. (That’s what it says in the press release, anyway). And, for the most part, it seems to succeed in that mission.
There’s nothing preachy about the lyrics, although there are several references to “God” (capital G) and “my Lord” (capital L) — which at first glance could seem a bit on the fundamentalist side of things. But those words are indeed part of a much larger context.
“Elusive Spirit” (one of only five tunes with any lyrics at all — the rest are instrumental) reads, in part, like this:
“God has a plan for me she said maybe so but I don’t know what it is living in perpetual motion I go on chasing dreams that never come true… if God suddenly appeared
would I be worthy in his eyes…”
That’s one of the darker moments. A lighter note appears in the title track with words like
“Divine peace and joy dwell in unity
heaven fulfills me now…”
But it’s not the lyrics that really carry this CD. Nor is it George’s vocals, which at times sounds a bit like Neil Diamond meets Don Francisco (the latter a popular inspirational singer of the 70s and early 80s). It’s actually the instrumentation that really shines here. That is where the sanctuary is found in this extremely well-produced and orchestrated CD.
The wide array of influences — pop, rock, jazz, classical and new age — are heard all over the place. (You might even hear hints of the Moody Blues…) The opening tune, “Shadows Fall,” is constructed with a wide- open sound, possibly to prepare you for the rest of the CD. It’s crisp, ultra clear with classical guitar and a bank of instrumental effects. “Time Standing Still” manifests more classical guitar and excellent bass lines. “Inner Sanctum,” one of the best cuts, is a very appropriately titled tune with its synthesized spirituality and warm guitar that somehow sounds and feels more real than manufactured.
The only really down side of the list is “Sounds of Love” — ironic in that it’s a harsh sounding rocker that really does not fit anyplace on this CD.
“Sanctuary” is probably best heard while alone, in a contemplative mood with lots of space around you. (You might wanna get up and move around some.)
Just how much spiritual enlightenment anyone receives is up for debate (and to the individual), but with the universal understanding of the power of music, it’s a safe bet to say that “Sanctuary” is a great channel to at least put you on the path.