CD REVIEW: Theo Czuk - Too Many Shadows
by: Cyrus Rhodes
"Theo brings the mojo"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST-
Artist: Theo Czuk
Too Many Shadows
Genre: R&B, Psychedelic Rock, Soul Rock, Progressive Rock
Sounds Like: Dr. John, Bob Dylan, The Band, Leon Russell, Super Tramp, Rare Earth, Lil Feat, Grateful Dead, Manfred Mann
Weakness: Marketability, Dated Sound and Mix. More solo segments
Theo Czuk is a 70s-style neo-classic progressive rock artist based out of Oregon with a wide range of influences, including Leon Russell, Mose Allison, cat Stevens, Randy Newman and John Hyatt. His latest release is entitled “Too Ma y Shadows” was released in 2012.
The CD kicks things off with “Out There” upbeat intro piece that serves-up driving rhythms, up-beat vocal melodies accompanied by inviting flute, R&B style guitar licks and impressive keyboard accents. Track 2 “Pull Me From The Rubble” shifts gears a bit with its impressive musicianship, against well placed saloon style piano, vocal harmonies against a grand slam chorus. Track 3 “For Forty Days and for Forty Nights” delivers smooth moving ditty with well placed vocal melody, dynamic musical flow and thought provoking lyrical content that flows and ebbs its way through to musical fruition. As the CD slowly unfolds you will notice a lot of musical variety from these guys reminiscent of classic Bob Dylan, Dr. John, The Band, Leon Russell, Super Tramp, Rare Earth, Lil Feat, Grateful Dead, Manfred Mann. First the music itself has a lot of vocal originality and possesses a psychedelic 70’s rock persona. The CD offers a rich melodic vocal foundation and lush layers of instrumentation. I would classify this music as classic 70’s Psychedelic Rock, R&B, Soul Rock and even Jam Band with a strong emphasis on vocal harmonies and good songwriting and superb musicianship. All in all the CD has some truly impressive moments on it showcasing amazing playing, dynamic arrangements, and wire arrangement of instrumentation. Besides the standard 4 piece delivery you will also notice brief splashes of saxophone, harmonica, banjo, horn section, Hammond Organ, violin, piano, well placed harmonies, flute, horns, percussive accents and R&B guitar layered within the music. As far as vocal abilities, Czuk brings the mojo and lets it all hang out with a lot of groove-ability and more than enough soul to go around. His voice works well across the board possessing a vocal swagger reminiscent of classic Dr. John, with just a splash of Joe Cocker and Randy Newman. Czuk's voice fits this style of music perfectly. Czuk clearly demonstrates a strong and confident vocal ability as he takes many impressive vocal risks along the way. All production aspects check out as the CD has solid low end groove and crystal clear high end clarity. Czuk deserves a lot of credit for being a musical mastermind. Not only did he play Guitar and Piano on some of the songs he wrote all this music and deserves a lot of credit from bringing this all together. Make no bones about it folks it took a lot of work to put this CD in my hands. From spicy “Moonglow Tango” to melodic ”Let Me Know” to hilarious “Damned if I do” to striking “Kitty’s Song” to grooving “Running wit the Dogs” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 15 “Keep the Change” the perfect faille statement for a CD of this caliber.
This mix though adequate is lacks a modern day marketability, flair and dynamic. Perhaps this CD was released 30 years too late. I fully realize this is a subjective art form but some of this does affect the CD’s overall marketability. It’s doesn’t mean it’s no a barnburner of a release – because it is. Drums lack think low end punch frequency. I also wish there were more solo segments throughout.
In closing Theo Czuk's latest effort Too Many Shadows is just a blast to listen to and is a strong musical production from start to finish. The music is highly original, extremely melodic with amazing writing and playing from all involved. As the CD progressed I became more and more impressed with it. Because of the influences I would say the flower children who like Leon Russell and Grateful Dead out there will love this one. The musicianship is first rate, the songs are quite dynamic and in extend play format many will enjoy. Each song possesses a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Lastly - the writing and singing abilities of Theo Czuk delivers the goods.