Vesica Pisces

Halfway to Naked

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This title is the major-label debut and second overall release from Salem, MA-based Vesica Pisces. The band's unusual name is derived from the sacred geometry pattern of two intersecting circles that also share the same radius -- such as the golden rings that grace the Halfway to Naked (2003) cover art. The quartet features the respective talents of Kelly Fitzgerald (vocals/guitar/percussion), Brian Pothier (guitar/vocals/mandolin/alto sax), Adam Nicol Roach (drums/percussion/vocals), and Bill Bleschke (bass/vocals). The combo first came to fame after winning the Los Angeles Music Award for Best Adult Contemporary Artist in 2000. They were also making a name for themselves via incessant touring in support of their 1999 self-titled debut effort. Their time in the trenches -- doing upwards of 200 live dates a year around the globe -- has paid off with this collection of a baker's dozen of originals and one well-chosen cover of Wayne Kramer's "No Easy Way Out." Undoubtedly, the influence of veteran producer Jack Douglas has much to do with the album's decidedly clean and radio-friendly tone. Rather than simply temper Vesica Pisces' raw and more aggressive side, he allows the band to unleash its own highly stylized brand of contemporary pop/rock. The band's sound centers on Fitzgerald's uniformly riveting lead vocals, which lie somewhere between the unrefined and earthy passion of Melissa Etheridge and the throaty power pop of Sheryl Crow. Likewise, Fitzgerald asserts her command of both the languid and pastoral "Peace Is Not the Absence" as well as the upbeat "Groovy Town." Potheir's fretwork provides a series of interesting textures, ranging from the unplugged bite of the mandolin that highlights "Something to Hold Onto" to the funky wah-wah intro of "Single" or the Mellotron-esque sound incorporated into "Settlesville," reminiscent of George Harrison's contributions to "Badge." Overall, Vesica Pisces' solid yet airy and overall radio-friendly sound should score with both pop and rock enthusiasts in equal measure.

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