Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Bill Cruz's 'Spirit Parade' is an eclectic and genre-defying album that seamlessly blends electronic, organic and traditional elements to create it's unique sound and mood. The production techniques and stylistic approaches shift as the record progresses, while the songs are strongly unified by a recurring theme: the relationship between physical and spiritual loss. Though the subject matter is inherently dark, each song approaches it from a different perspective and sonic context. The opener, 'When Columbus Got To Heaven' spins it's allegorical tale in the midst of percolating drum 'n' bass rhythms and ambient guitars. 'Black Night Black Moon' begins starkly, driven only by voice and acoustic guitar, and then slowly builds to a crescendo of swirling strings. 'Already Been Here' uses drum loops, waltz time and an intimate vocal reading, while 'Bullet' features multi-layered vocal harmonies, driving electric guitars and subtle vintage keyboard flourishes. Even though it's sound is highly accessible, 'Spirit Parade' is a thematically complex album that rewards repeated plays: the listener will begin to identify and connect lyric fragments shared by different songs and understand how the individual stories relate to one another. If the ultimate artistic goal is to communicate and convey emotion, then it has been fully realized on this record. Bill Cruz has produced a compelling collection in every regard: the songs, performances and production are all equally inspiring. The only thing missing here is a clear-cut category to put it in. Listening to 'Spirit Parade', you get the feeling that's exactly how Bill Cruz wanted it.
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