Doesn’t Quite Connect
Prog-rock mainstay John Wesley (AKA Wes Dearth) gives us the best and worst of the genre on his eighth studio release, Disconnect. Wesley is known for touring with the likes of Steve Hogarth (Marillion) and Sean Malone. He has supported larger acts as well, such as Peter Frampton and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but he has never seemed able to break out of that “sideman” role. Disconnect will do little to change that. With its 10 capable but forgettable numbers, Disconnect is destined to remain hidden among your CD collection.
The title track begins the album with some choppy, raw guitars over a tribal beat followed by Wesley’s raspy, desperate vocals. As the song progresses, so do the guitars. Solos abound on this track and the next, “Any Old Saint,” clocking in at 7:42, and you realize that such axe-heavy compositions are anachronistic. “Once a Warrior” features Alex Lifeson as a guest, and his contribution helps propel Disconnect to the next level, but Wesley doesn’t appear to have learned any lessons on the following tracks.
The strength of Disconnect is its recording quality. Even though the prog-rock genre is typically exemplified by precision execution and crisp production, Wesley chose a more natural sound throughout the album, and that helps set him apart. Even “Take What You Need,” a spacey track, has very warm guitar tones and deep drum sounds.
Disconnect ends with “Satellite,” an acoustic number peppered with sound effects, all guitar-borne. It’s a peaceful end to an unpredictable, yet cohesive, set of songs. There is nothing bad here. If you like listening to guitars, and a lot of them, and you don’t need your soloist to be distinctive, you may enjoy John Wesley. But that enjoyment may be one and done; and the next time you reach for his album, you may land on one of his headliners instead.