Beyond From Within

Beyond From Within

Independent release, 2013

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


A side project from Pittsburgh-based singer/songwriter Steve Andrews, Beyond From Within will appeal to those who grew up in the late ‘60s and/or have a fondness for the psychedelic rock of that era.

Andrews, a drafter and choir conductor/singer by day, and drummer Nick Spagnolo are the duo, with production help from Dino Pandolfo. The 11-track album only runs 40 minutes, much like the vinyl of old, and covers a lot of the same ground that the Doors, Moby Grape, the Byrds and perhaps a touch of early Pink Floyd already covered.

Granted, Andrews isn't trying to break new ground here, instead opting to "rediscover" the sounds and feelings of that era and then offer his own takes on them. The potential to reinterpret old sounds for the modern era remains fertile, and although little on this disc actually accomplishes that goal, many of the songs are pleasant, subtle entries into this vast catalog.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Seven Strangers" is a canny choice for leadoff track, capturing the sound of an era and a hint of drama in the singing, with a touch of prog rock. "Picture" is a dense, enjoyable tune that recalls early Moody Blues but without the campy pot-infused lyrics. Actually, the lyrics here are evocative and concern observation of the world and one’s thoughts, and every so often a line like “I am captured by the greed / Of the wealth of the unknown / Hostage to some ill fantasy / Beyond the state of reality” will make you stop and think.

It should be noted that Andrews plays all the guitar, bass and keyboard parts here, which is no mean feat when recording an album but pretty tricky when recording something psychedelic, as layers of sound and swirling kaleidoscopic colors are essential to the genre. The Moodies had five guys and still needed, say, 20 overdubs per album to capture that sound. Oh, and Andrews handles all lead and backup vocals too, but like Moby Grape or Jefferson Airplane (as opposed to the Doors or Floyd), Andrews knows when to hold back, to be economical and still explore sounds; only two songs run beyond four minutes.

Andrews sings in his higher register most of the time, but when he switches to his lower voice, it sounds very similar to Jim Morrison, which makes "Free Of Freedom" sound a bit like a Doors studio outtake. Unfortunately, this lapses into parody on "Between the Rain" and the awkward "Forever Road" (which could have been good if not for the whining guitar fills that randomly pop up), which is probably why Andrews mostly avoids it. The closing "Soul Traveler" has him switching registers and actually rocks a little bit, and it's not half bad.

None of this has the stamp of 2014, of course, but that's not what Andrews is going for on this release. The disc is pretty standard psychedelic-rock fare and, like many debuts, is more interesting for what it suggests than what it offers. Still, the best moments here ("Picture" and "Seven Strangers") are worth checking out for fans of this style, and they may be tempted to explore the rest after hearing this.

Rating: C-

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