Former Tinyfish frontman Simon Godfrey returns to the land of prog with the Philadelphia-based Valdez, bringing with him Joe Cardillo from Cold Blue Electric on keys, Echolyn’s bassist Tom Hyatt, and drummer Scott Miller.
There’s a strong and sunny 70s vibe to the music, with the infectious and jaunty lilt of Thirteen suggesting Jackson Browne’s Doctor My Eyes while the keys in the rather gorgeous No Stone Unturned point towards vintage Supertramp. It’s not all flares and feathered haircuts – Sally Won’t Remember recalls Tears For Fears without Roland Orzabal’s occasionally smothering production. The quartet never gets as heavy as Tinyfish could in their more unbridled moments and Godfrey has a good voice, although he’s no belter. Fortunately, the quartet build enough dynamics into the arrangements that even if Godrey can’t lift them to the heavens vocally, they still achieve lift-off in the crescendos of Spite House and This. Colorado – Smile For The Camera is the magnum opus of the album, a 17-minute road trip on a cloudless day with the top down and the radio tuned to a station playing deep album cuts. This invites you to tune in and chill way out. Don’t fight it.