Sea of Tranquility
By Michael Popke
Vertical Leap: Sanctuary
Multi-instrumentalist and singer George W. Mahn III actually turned down a recording contract to study journalism can you believe that? Well, an album must have been building up inside this Texan for a long time, quietly detonating in the form of Sanctuary. Essentially a one-man band (with bassist John Adams), Vertical Leap doesnt exactly make progressive music, nor rock or even pop. By fusing small pieces of such artists as the Moody Blues, The Hollies and Crowded House into an eclectic musical whole, Mahn establishes himself as a dynamic arranger and a thinking-persons musician. With five instrumentals and five vocal tracks, Sanctuary purrs rather than roars, washing over you.
The best track, hands down, is Turned All Around, a song on which Mahn really lets his soulful voice take over, churning out an instantly feel-good melody countered by lyrics derived from confusion and pain. And Mahn’s voice takes on dimensions of a lower-register Geddy Lee on the Rush-like rocker Sounds of Love. The instrumentals, on the other hand, are low-key affairs. Inner Sanctum sounds like something from a New Age acoustic-guitar record, and In the Light glows and bounces with muted warmth.
Sanctuary is one of those introspective records that you put on in the middle of a dreary afternoon, or cheesy as it may sound, when you just need a friend.
Added: August 4th 2003
Reviewer: Michael Popke