Dear Prospective listener, I write songs I record songs It's a form of expression you see. Alan A review of 'Animal Magic' by Paul Rayfield: I'm sure that his music will not be everyone's cup of tea but who can ever rise to that challenge? 'Animal Magic' contains mainly mid to lower tempo songs which have a jazzy influence because of chord structure. The last three songs depart from this formula and perhaps a different song order would have helped break the regularity of style. I'm probably more in tune with the pop tendencies of the last three songs but can't help but be impressed by the first seven. Also, please remember it is Friday night. Any criticisms I have of Animal Magic pale in comparison to the praise I have for it. Here are my criticisms. Alan's vocals have improved since his first CD yet. May still not portray each song in it's best light (I happen to find his vocals engaging). Rearranging the order of the songs could have helped with the highs and lows of the album dynamics. Can't think of anything else. Here are my praises. Alan is an arranger of the highest calibre. He chooses the right part and right sound so consistently it's sickening. The album is so full of fresh, interesting ideas I wouldn't be at all surprised if Alan has a constant migraine due to the enormity of ideas busting to get out of his head. I remember reading an article about Nik Kershaw, saying he was a master of key changes. I can only assume Alan taught Nik everything he knows. Alanblends different keys so well you have trouble knowing there are way more than three chords to these songs. Each change seems so natural. As for lyrics, Alan has a quirky, interesting, original style. There tends to be a story behind each song. From the first line I'm hooked, wanting to know how it all pans out. You might call him country's answer to jazz/pop/crossover/experimental/never-heard-before music (or should that be the other way around?). The sounds Alan chooses are smooth, sweet, varied and overall impressive.Out of the blue comes something to distract you from the moment and then it disappears, seamlessly. His use of reverb and occasional Pop effect tricks is fantastic. The actual recording quality seems very impressive. I've only listened on my headphones but that's all I've been listening to for a couple of months and Alan's CD sounds great. As for the standard of musicianship, I certainly can't complain. He can play keyboards way better than me and his nylon guitar work is wonderful. So, in summary, Alan Burge has an amazing, unrecognized talent. The quality of his songwriting is unquestionable, his choice of sounds and arrangements are amazing. He doesn't sound like Genesis of the Peter Gabriel days but if you want songs that still take you on an unknown journey rather than to some predictable place and do it in style with impeccable sounds then get a copy of 'Animal Magic'.