Circa HQ - album review - Billy Sherwood
I’m relieved to hear that prog-supergroup Circa is currently working with ex-Toto lead singer Bobby Kimball for an upcoming album. The vocals happen to be one of the weak points on Circa’s recently released HQ album. The group is made up of stellar musicians including two former Yes members - Billy Sherwood and Tony Kaye, guitarist Jimmy Haun (who played on Yes’ Union album) and current Asia/GPS/John Payne drummer Jay Schellen. These guys are phenomenal players that would make any prog/rock-fan proud. But the album lacks memorable material and Sherwood’s vocals are weak, thin-sounding and limited in range. Perhaps if the album consisted of all-instrumental music, I would have viewed it differently but the fact remains that the sound of Sherwood’s voice really ruined it for me. It’s very disappointing because I like these guys and think Sherwood is a great musician and producer.
The recording sounds fantastic and the sound palette is pleasantly reminiscent of Yes without crossing the line into parody. But until you reach the last two songs on the album (”All Intertwined” and “Remember Along the Way” ), it just seems like a group of musicians lost, trying desperately to find a hook or a distinct melody line. The chops are clearly there - Haun with his fluid, tasty guitar lines, Kaye with his Hammond organ and Sherwood sounding a bit like Chris Squire with his Rickenbacker bass. But it all doesn’t really come together until those last two songs. And even though those two songs last a total of twenty minutes, they can’t save the album as a whole. I was expecting a lot more from musicians of this caliber and lineage. Well, at least we have another project to look forward to now that Bobby Kimball is fronting the group.