This is the album that bridges Goldie's Last Day and Them. A listen to this album and you can hear how some songs were precursors to Them and seemed like leftovers from Goldie's. Some songs were a bit harder around the edges but still retained some of the great qualities from the previous album. But some tracks are gritty and rough enough to fit on their next album. What's amazing about Great Lengths is how much the songs vary in sound. This is evident in the first three songs when it goes from the title track with its smooth strings and Patrick Andrew's familiar vocals to "Wonder Why" and Joel Hanson's smooth voice and electronic keys. "Merry Go Round" follows the rock theme but not before they throw in a piece of an actual carousel tune. While I can't decide if it's annoying or not, it sets the track apart and adds to my respect for PFR's experimentation and risk taking. "The Love I Know" is a ballad that immediately changes the tempo, similar to "Great Lengths," and servers as of my favorite PFR songs ever. The harmonies and even the lyrical style are reminiscent to something from their previous effort Goldie's Last Day.
"It's You Jesus" is a song that sounds like something U2 listened to before making their album Pop. While it treads different ground for the trio, it still keeps the PFR staple harmonies while keeping the music simple yet unique. The next two songs, "Trials Turned to Gold" and "Blind Man, Deaf Boy," follow the format of The Beatles' "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam" from Abbey Road, leading into each other. "See The Sun Again" sounds like another track that could have been on Goldies. Even lyrically it offers the same message of encouragement and never giving up. "Grace of God," the first PFR song ever written by drummer Mark Nash, precedes the dark and edgy "Last Breath" a pre-cursor to Patrick's post-PFR project Eager or even an early musical format to "Daddy Never Cried," the darkest song from PFR by far. Before the album draws to a close, they throw a curve ball with "Life Goes On," a beautiful, slow song built around nothing but a cello, piano, acoustic guitar and the occasional chime.
This album defines what makes PFR great. They had an uncanny ability to be so versatile with their sound while keeping the basics and fundamentals of what some of the greatest blues musicians have said all along - "Less is more." They are my favorite band of all time because of all the songs I've heard them make, there isn't one that I listen to and think to myself that there is too much going on in the background. The combination of Joel and Patrick's vocals as well as the ability to change styles flawlessly and still keep the listener engrossed, has made PFR a band that I still hold close to my heart. Sadly, though, PFR has left us, but not before releasing The Bookhouse Recordings just a year and a half ago. Hopefully it won't be the last project from this amazing trio.- Review date: 3/6/06, written by Kevin Chamberlin
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