Eric Gillette: The Best A Prog Fan Can Get

Gillette's first album.
Gillette’s first album.

As Brad Birzer mentioned in another post, Eric Gillette is the lead guitarist for The Neal Morse Band, having contributed to their album The Grand Experiment and currently touring with them. Before he hooked up with Neal, Eric released a self-produced album, Afterthought, which certainly deserves to be recognized in its own right for the excellent slab of prog it is.

It begins with three very heavy guitar-based instrumentals, “Afterthought”, “Change”, and “You’re Full Of It”. Fans of Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson will eat these up, as they showcase Eric’s phenomenal guitar skills. Eric’s gift is his ever-present melodicism, regardless of how crunching the riffs are underneath.

The fourth track, “Lost” (featuring long-time Neal Morse collaborator Randy George on bass), is something very special. A 22 minute epic that begins with a fast Crimson-like guitar intro soon settles into a keyboard section reminiscent of classic Todd Rundgren while Eric sings, “Can you hear me? Is there anyone out there? I could use a helping hand…I will find my way; I won’t be afraid. I can feel you next to me.” After three blistering instrumentals, it is a startling and inspiring moment to hear his pure and strong vocals. “Lost” is a tremendous track, with not a note wasted during its entire length.

“Rising” is another instrumental, this time featuring fellow NMB member Bill Hubauer on keyboards. “Bring You Down” is another heavy track with excellent vocals. It brings to mind Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor at his best. Unlike NIN, though, Gillete’s lyrics are more positive: “You don’t have to face it alone/Don’t let it bring you down.”

“Out Of Control” is another guitar showcase that would give Jeff Beck a run for his money. As a matter of fact, if you miss those classic Jeff Beck/Jan Hammer jams, then “Stagger”, “Blue Sky” and “Miles Away” will satisfy. The latter song, in particular, is simply gorgeous, and I am sure it was no accident that the title suggests Miles Davis’ balladry.

The album closes on a gentle note with a piano-based acoustic tour de force, “Above The Sky”. Eric’s multitracked harmonies sing a song of hope and redemption: “Darkness turns to light/Now you can finally see what this all meant/ No more questions why/The answer’s right in front of you, so open your eyes/Above the sky”.

It is an extraordinary achievement for a young musician to produce a debut album of such high quality. It’s no surprise Neal Morse included him in his new band – Eric Gillette is the real deal, and we will be hearing a lot more from him in the years to come.

An Afterthought: Eric Gillette

Gillette's first album.
Gillette’s first album.

In 2013, Eric Gillette, best known as the lead guitarist of the Neal Morse Band, released his first solo album.  At the time, it arrived as a review copy just when Progarchy was getting off the ground.  And, due to the graciousness of a number of record labels who immediately supported us (thank you!), a couple of releases got, more or less, lost in the deluge of prog wonder.  One of these albums was Gillette’s.  I don’t have time for a full review at the moment, as I’m heading off to CU to teach for the day.  But, having been rather blown away by Gillette on Saturday night in Denver, I decided to pull the first album out again.  Oh boy, it’s good.  Really, really, really good.  I shouldn’t have let this one fly by without notice.  A full review or two is coming your way.

In the meantime, trust me.  This is one very talented young man, and he is the future of prog.  Purchase this album.