Music—CDs

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JOHN R. MABRY / I WANT TO BE CHANGED (2021) / I did my first studio solo album during the 2020-2021 COVID lockdown. I booked studio time once a week just to get myself out of the house and give myself some vestige of normalcy. It totally saved me. This album is quite a different sound from my prog outings. It's predominantly Americana, with plenty of acoustic guitar and fiddle. It's also my first explicitly Christian album, although with tracks like "Fuckups and Sinners" I think it's safe to say this is not your standard-brand contemporary Christian music. / LISTEN on Amazon, Apple Music, Bandcamp, Spotify.

MIND FURNITURE / AN ILLUSTRATED MAP OF THE HEART (2021) / Ten years in the making, An Illustrated Map of the Heart is Mind Furniture's most satisfying outing to date. It is a concept album that tells the story of a relationship from the longing for love, the thrill of finding love, to it all going sideways and coming to an end. An emotional roller-coaster ride, the music is catchy and soulful, with plenty of time-signature shifts and blazingly transcendent guitar work. Mind Furniture is Jim Anderson (bass), Brett Barnett (keys), John Mabry (vocals), and Greg Miller (drums). Many guest guitarists round out the lineup on most songs. / LISTEN on Amazon, Apple Music, Bandcamp, Spotify.

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METAPHOR / THE PEARL (2019) / Metaphor's fourth and final album is a rock opera telling the story of "The Hymn of the Pearl" from the 2nd century Acts of Thomas. Fans of classic 70s prog will find lots to love here, with plenty of mystical guitar work, bombastic themes, and noodly synthesizers. Metaphor are Jim Anderson (bass), John Mabry (vocals), Greg Miller (drums), Malcolm Smith (guitar), and Marc Spooner (keys). / LISTEN on Amazon,  Apple Music, Bandcamp, Spotify.

MIND FURNITURE / HOOP OF FLAME (2007) / My first album as the singer for Mind Furniture sees us taking on some bold themes. The album consists of two LP-side long suites. The first is "The Trial," in which humankind calls on God to stand trial for "his" crimes against humanity. The second suite is "Hoop of Flame," a meditation on Kierkegaard's three stages of existential awareness, capped by two hymns to Shiva. Lots of poppy bombast, this is one of my favorite projects. "Hymn to Shiva, pt 2" totally rocks. / LISTEN on Amazon, Apple Music, Bandcamp, Spotify.

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METAPHOR / THE SPARROW (2007) / Metaphor's third album is a rock opera based on Mary Doria Russell's amazing, thoughtful science fiction novel, The Sparrow, about the first Jesuit mission to another planet...with disastrous and unforeseen consequences. The project was done with Russell's permission and blessing, and she seemed pleased with the result! (We sure were.) This is Metaphor at the height of our bombastic powers, with some great songs and crackerjack musicianship. My favorite Metaphor album. / LISTEN on Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify.

METAPHOR / ENTERTAINING THANATOS (2004) / Metaphor's second album is our most uneven. Still, some of my favorite Metaphor songs are here! "Socrates" is a firecracker opener. "When it All Comes Together" is probably one of our shortest songs, and a real gem. The sprawler is "Yes & No," a rock opera based on the Bhagavad Gita, and one of our best works ever. "Raking the Bones" was commissioned by a Finnish record company for a prog version of the Kalevala. Award for our best song title goes to "Call me Old and Uninspired or Maybe Even Lazy and Tired but Thirteen Heads in the Backyard Says You're Wrong." / LISTEN on Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify.

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METAPHOR / STARFOOTED (2001) / Metaphor's first album garnered us immediate attention and cred in the prog world. A rock opera based on the Gnostic myth. "Side One" tells the story pretty much straight from the Apocryphon of John, while "Side Two" brings the story into the present, following a modern-day neo-Gnostic. This is classic 70s prog—with plenty of mellotron and Steve Hackett-y guitars—make it total ear candy for old Genesis fans. This was so ambitious as to be overreach—but did we succeed? I think we did. I love this album! / LISTEN on Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify.