From Rock Rocking Rocker:
Below is a review from Dylan Sexton of the music blog Rock Rocking Rocker (link here)?–
Progressive rock has a new champion.? Genesis, Yes, Peter Gabriel, and Asia?? Add the name Four Stories Tall to that list.? They’ve just released a debut recording of uncommon clarity, precision, and soulfulness, called “The Road West,” and mark my words, this band is ready for a wider audience.
Four Stories Tall bill themselves as Texas Prog and it’s as apt of a description as can be made.? The musicians who comprise Four Stories Tall,— three veterans of seminal Lubbock, Texas progressive rock band, Asparagus Nightmares and a guitarist who’d walked away from his instrument for twenty years, have, over the past five years, turned weekend jam sessions and a shared love of progressive rock and jazz fusion into a disciplined, professional, functioning, and musically productive band.? And as a result of this process, the world has a stunning progressive rock masterpiece that transcends the genre.
Allow me to explain my bold use of the phrase “transcends the genre.”
In May of 1978, I headed for the local record store with a pocketful of birthday cash.? When I came back from the store, I was carrying a copy of the album “Fragile” by Yes.? I didn’t know much about Yes.? In fact, nothing at all.? I bought the album because I liked the cover art.? This sort of decision making has failed me numerous times over the years, but fortunately for me in May of 1978, I was rewarded richly for my decision.
“Fragile” is widely regarded as a progressive rock masterpiece, and though I was completely oblivious to the progressive rock genre at that stage of my musical education, I had no problem appreciating the unique song structures, harmonies, and time signatures that characterized the album.? With “Fragile,” Yes transcended the progressive rock genre.? It was not just a great progressive rock album, it was a great rock album.
And that brings me back to “The Road West.”
From the slow-crawl heaviness and desperation of the albums’ opener “Famine,” the band shifts gears into a funky groove for the following tune “Brazos de Dios,” featuring bedrock rhythm work from bassist Mark Matos and drummer John Wilson.
Guitarist Mark Turner colors every song with his deceptively understated playing.? Turner is a master of mood, giving character to the trouble-bound narrator of “This is Where the River Brought Me” and a shimmering image of telephone poles in the sun for the tune “Telephone Road.”
Singer/keyboardist Mark Murray shines on vocals on every song, but especially on “Mutt,” an empathetic narration from the point of view of a dog that grew famous in the late eighteen-hundreds as a mascot for the Postal Service Railroad operations.? This empathetic quality of Murray’s is also well demonstrated on the album’s nine-minute closer “The Cotton Farmer’s Wife,” a country and folk flavored tale spiced with the pedal steel of Texas Country veteran Lloyd Maines and the fiddle of Dustin Ballard.
Meticulously lived, created, and produced, “The Road West” is a good sign for those of us with high standards for a progressive rock in particular and rock and roll in general.? And it’s a testament to the skill and dedication of four friends from Texas who in search of quality music, decided to make it themselves.
“The Road West” is a masterpiece that deserves to be heard.? It’s available on Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby.? And Like ’em on Facebook!