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Henning Pauly > Babysteps > Reviews

Henning Pauly - Babysteps

...With a ton of musical “book learning” behind him Pauly puts his ample talents to work performing all the instruments here but calling upon the likes of Jody Ashworth, James LaBrie, Matt Cash and Michael Sadler to handle the vocals. Babysteps is Henning Pauly’s seventh release if you count his other projects like Chain and Frameshift. And like the others this is complex prog-metal with plenty of notes flying around. The CD’s concept follows the life of a professional athlete as he goes through his rehabilitation after being consigned to a wheelchair, hence the title Babysteps. Musically the CD’s hour and fifteen minutes incorporate fifteen tracks of varying lengths, three of which are just over seven-minutes and the longest being a little over nine-minutes. Some of the shorter pieces are more like instrumental bridges creating moods and drama. Sometimes the vocalists use spoken passages to again reinforce the characters traumatic internal conflict. Each of the voices performs a character in the storyline and as such the music is devised to reinforce the person’s place in the story, with some obviously being angrier sounding than others. As a counterpoint to the crunchy metal guitar Pauly uses a lot of piano throughout the CD, in fact it is the most prevalent keyboard other than a few organ pads here and there; it’s the piano, usually in a solo mode that sets a kind of poignant tone for the pain the hero is going through as well as a musical counterpoint to the guitars...
www.dvdivas.net/ProgVoices/H/henningpauly-babysteps.html

...Musically, this release is less exaggerated than the two previous Henning Pauly releases we examined (Frameshift’s An Absence of Empathy and Pauly’s Credit Where Credit Is Due), but "humble" is far from being an insult. Pauly, who handles most of the instruments himself, does so brilliantly: he does not over-speed, he does not over-stretch and he does not get too technical; instead he leads the vocals with melodies, energetic riffs (check out the great melodic bass playing on one of the album’s most conflict-charged songs, "What do you know!?") and changing sceneries. Even the five instrumental pieces that are distributed throughout the album are articulate and to the point rather than being a hollow showcase (a common case in progressive metal). Instead of being filled with pompousness, this album tells its story with great focus and relevance. The result is exactly what this release strived to be: a clear storyline, served with engaging performance that emphasize its drama to create a meaningful, empathic listening experience. (9/10)
maelstrom.nu/ezine/review_iss50_3642.php

Spanish review
manticornio.com/rock-progresivo/P/PAULY-Henning/babysteps.html

...The main thing about Babysteps that stands out is that, instead of being this typical “progressive rock” piece, it’s in the vein of Kamelot, Metal Church, Savatage, and late-period Dream Theater; it’s lacks any pretentious art-rock connotations making this a metal record by all means; with no need for all those staccato rhythms and symphonic arrangements, where the guitars just crunch and keyboards are used sparingly (mostly piano is prominent), so it goes to show, this approach is what keeps the music interesting. It would be great to see everybody involved get together and play this at ProgPower sometime.
www.ytsejam.com/modules.php?name=Reviews&rop=showcontent&id=1051

Italian review
www.hardsounds.it/PUBLIC/recensione.php?id=2638

French review
www.musicinbelgium.net/pl/modules.php?name=Reviews&rop=showcontent&id=1575

...The most amazing aspect of this album is the story and the lyrics that he’s developed. It’s obvious it took a labor of love to make everything fit. If he went unassisted for some time, it was only in the short term. His helpers donate enough wealth to overcome any kind of impoverishment. Add his own talents into the fray, and in no way could this be categorized as underprivileged. Everything works together as if parts to a single unit. At the same time, each component is truly song-oriented. It’s a skillfully-woven concept and epic. This gives rock operas a good name...
www.prog4you.com/cd-reviews-10-06/Henning_Pauly.htm

...Another interesting aspect of all the songs mentioned is that the piano is really ubiquitous there, being usually an integral part of the picture regardless of whether the music is heavy or not. On most of them (the only exceptions being Listen to Me and I See), Jody Ashworth either does lead vocals alone or shares the lead with one of the other singers, and all of such have a slight operatic feeling in addition. Jody's low-pitched vocals are really unique, quite one-of-a-kind, and are very pleasant and listenable in general. The Door adds heartfelt dramatic vocals to an inventive acoustic guitar, meaning both passages and solos. The remaining two songs are remarkable only as long as they are viewed outside the Prog Rock idiom, piano still being the instrument that stands out the most, even sharing the spotlight with the vocals. Not Just a Piece of Paper and The Last Song blend together Prog-tinged Hard Rock and AOR, though the former is notable for some splendid blues solos on guitar.
www.progressor.net/review/henning_pauly_2006.html

...Especially the two tracks with LaBrie on lead vocals are of superior quality. Listen to me is a rather heavy prog metal song with amazing vocals, a breathtaking guitar solo and lots of beautiful piano passages. I See is also one of the highlights as it is a Frameshift like prog metal song with two dazzling guitar solos and a beautiful tranquil middle part with James talking…. The songs Café 1 – 5 are all instrumental songs filled with lots of piano work and heavenly guitar melodies and solos. All five are good songs although I must admit that a lot of piano intros are a bit too much Savatage and TSO-like…. So, conclusion: eight really good songs, two mediocre ones – No Tree To Sit Under and The Last Song (a dull piano ballad)..
www.dprp.net/reviews/200647.php#pauly

German review
www.obliveon.de/pn-om/modules.php?op=modload&name=tplcdimport&file=index&req=showcontent&id=8892

French review
www.progressivewaves.com/frmChronique.aspx?ALB_ID=1913

German review
www.rocktimes.de/gesamt/opq/henning_pauly/babysteps.html

French review
www.lesacteursdelombre.com/Ombres/chronique/detail.asp?rsRubrique=Groupe&rnChronique=2965

German review
www.metal-inside.de/mi/review/7610

...Musically it reminds you of Trans Siberian Orchestra, in that you have a big production and vocals delivered in an almost stage musical way. Jody Ashworth is worthy of taking the lion's share of the vocal parts with James La Brie delivering his usual high standard. Highlights include 'I Don't Need You' and the passion filled 'The Last Song'. At regular intervals in the album you get five wonderful instrumentals entitled 'Café' - a real change in pace and sound form the other guitar based songs...
www.getreadytorock.com/reviews2007/henning_pauly.htm

Italian review
www.movimentiprog.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=Recensioni&file=view&id=2342

...On the heavier front, the Labrie-sung "Listen to Me" is chock full of stomping rhythm battery, prominent bass, an array of sound effects, and Labrie's diverse vocal style. From its blood-curdling aggressive chorus to the dramatic spoken parts, Labrie is at his best, and Marcus Gemeinder's piano solo is absolutely jaw-dropping. Another high point of the album is "A Place in Time", where Michael Sadler, Matt Cash and Jody Ashworth swap lyrics. Saga's Ian Crichton also makes an appearance with a cool guitar solo, followed by a stattering piano riff, and the three singers create a cool vocal harmony at the end. Similarly, "What Do You Know!?" sees Labrie and Ashworth portraying the characters, thus sort of evoking the dialogues on Ayreon's The Human Equation. Henning Pauly himself sings some back-up on "The Door", and shreds intensely on "I See"...
www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=5195