Your Great Imagination
(2019 - Sireena Records - Germany)
Such a happy and satisfying solo by Swiss multi-instrumentalist, singer, composer, arranger Jakob Kunzel. He says it was a 40 year project meaning it is a collection of his talents and desire to make such an album. It certainly is a treasure of mixed styles, yet has a common thread of 70's classic pop, rock, progressive, and plenty of flavors among other decades of the more upbeat, make a smile come, melodic music. Two covers (from Genesis and Kate Bush) add to the ambrosia, and variety keeps a fresh scent about throughout the other original eight tunes. As cliche as it might sound, there is a style for nearly everyone's taste.
The opening track ('Grape) has instant appeal to Peter Gabriel era Genesis fans, with glorious rich production and development. Worth the price alone, a song you will play over and over. It also sets the tone for the other music, especially Jakob's cover of 'Dancing With The Moonlight Knight'. However, track 2 ('Pale Singer;) goes into a 70's radio friendly pop in the Pat Benatar ('Heartbreaker') style. Getting back to the Genesis cover, who could guess it would be done in a reggae mode? Oddly and against all prejudgements, it works quite nicely and surprised even this listener. In fact I feel this tongue in cheek (almost Gruppo Sportivo-like) style turned out much better than if K. tried to duplicate the original. Adding female vocals along with make lead lends to the success.
The genres are indeed varied on the disc. A touch of Bob Seger, Cat Stevens, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, and one other unexpected cover of Kate Bush ('Wuthering Heights') that is also unrecognizable at first, with a heavy funky Alan Parsons style. Jakob Kunzel, a veteran of the Swiss pop scene, makes this second solo (his first 'Quality Time' was many years ago in 1985, a stage and soundtrack collection) with a nice gathering of guests. Nadia Leonti (Leonti) - vocals, keyboards, guitars/ Stefan Strittmatter (The Universe By Ear) - electric guitars, vocals/ Florian Senn (Lovebugs) - bass guitar/ Simon Ramseier (Lovebugs) - drums, percussion/ Cristina Weber (Three Legged Dog) - vocals/ Anna Aaron - vocals/ Remy Strauli (Spaltklang, Yolk, Yonder Pond, Fido Plays Zappa) - vocals/ Bodo Maier (Bodo Maier Jazz Quintet) - trumpet/ David Schnee (Kaleidoscope String Quartet) - viola/ Beat Schneider (Zlang Zlut) – cello, and all under Jakob's (Airbreak, Bo Katzman Gang, Hammerfest, Hinz + Kunz, Lazy Poker Blues Band, Popmonster) supervision, who performs lead vocals, ukulele, mandolin, bari sax, blues harp, keyboards, and programming. He also produces, composes, and arranges the music. Some may know Remy Strauli as the drummer for named bands, but he was asked to do backing vocals on 'Grape', 'Something' and 'Blue Christmas'. Of course he is also a multi instrumentalist and fine vocalist, as he proves on his own solo work 'Yonder Pond'.
With such a diverse collection of songs and balancing a bit of humor with all out seriousness, 'Your Great Imagination' is a pleasurable listening experience. It is also a recording success, and shows that Kunzel is a fine song writer, who can create unusual covers and execute it all with a stellar cast of musicians. With one more Gruppo Sportivo-like campy swinging tune with female lead ('King of the Future'), then comes the title cut and another gem also worth the price alone. The last track ('Blue Christmas') has a partly Leonard Cohen/Nick Cave sound along with what Steve Hogarth might also have done. A nice ending to an entertaining album. The cover art represents it well. Nice package and recording in which you are asked to use your great imagination.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 1 - 3 - 2020