Psychic for Radio is a five year collaborative project by Shawn Gordon and Henning Pauly. Together, these two compiled a collection of brilliant musicians and vocalist together to create a wonderful work of progressive rock. Heading up the vocal department are Rick Livingstone, Adrian O’Shaughnessy, Todd Plant, and Maya haddi Zebley. The guest musicians include Martin Orford, Mark Zonder, Mike Alvarez, Peter Matuchniak, Carl Westholm, Randy George, Sen Entriken, Bill Berends, and Marek Arnold. With such a wide and varied selection of talent, many strengths are brought to Standing Wave, and Gordon and Pauly manage to capture the best of all of them to deliver a stellar collection of thickly textured progressive songs.
The album leads off with one of the three longer tracks, On My Own, and in the introductory notes, the first thing that comes through clearly is that this is well structured and accessible music. The vocals in this one, provided by O’Shaughnessy (a favorite of the Lady), are soulful and smooth, and fit the theme of the song well. It is a song that is easy on the ears, and sets up the listener well for the huge leaps across the progressive genres that the album takes from there, beginning with the heavy, distorted opening chords of the next song, Euthymal. This song cranks up the pace a bit, and contains within it a viscous guitar solo. The third song, Shed My Skin, takes on more classic prog sound, guitar and vocal driven. The album continues in this fashion from song to song, never committing to a single style or form, but openly celebrating all of them in a stellar fashion.
One track that really caught my attention was She Knows, a whispery soft piece that is stunning in its beauty. Opening with crystalline guitar, the piano and wonderfully soulful voice of Todd Plant, this is a song of loss and longing, and it drips with those emotions so well. Gordon’s piano work throughout the piece is simply stellar. This is an incredible song, one I could listen to over and over.
The other surprise truly was a surprise. In my first listen to this, I paid no attention to track titles, and just ran it though. As the opening chords of track nine, Schools Out, came on, nostalgia hit me like a sledgehammer. As a child of the 70’s and 80’s, this song was a standard for that one special day in June when we got to say goodbye to the shackles of the schoolroom, and say hello to the green fields of summer. Their treatment of this Alice Cooper classic is more than respectable. It takes the original, and turns it up from 10 to 11 in intensity. I had no problems with this. The song carries so well in this fashion, and it was a nice, unexpected flashback to years gone by for me.
In the bio on their Reverbnation page, it states that Psychic for Radio was Gordon’s attempt to “make music in an ego-free environment without over thinking it.” To this end he was very successful. The only real standout on this album is the music, as delivered by a collection of truly talented people.