Fire On The Horizon

by Dave Kilbank and Paul Bezooyen

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about

Review by David Morrison: [1]

In some ways "Fire on the Horizon" picks up where "Travelers" left off, but there is definitely a more sombre tone and edginess to some of the material. In the three years since the latter’s release the world has, for many reasons, undeniably become a darker place, so in reflection of that Kilbank and Bezooyen have continued to focus on mutual issues of the day, grasping for answers along the way. Indeed, in using the fire of the title as a metaphor for any challenging event, whether personal or shared, in their own words this fine and thoughtful sophomore release concerns itself with “staying on course when there always seems to be a fire on the horizon.”

The title track opens proceedings, setting the tone in a stark manner as a police siren wails over gentle acoustic guitar. Kilbank and Bezooyen explain that the song “explores the culture of fear that seems to be permeating our times…examining the feelings of helplessness about tragic world events.” But, in the lyric " It’s always been this way / Millstone turning endlessly," they are resigned to accepting that while we humans can continue to seek solutions to our problems, the nature of our beast dictates that we will likely never learn from our mistakes.

Matter Over Mind laments society’s obsession with style over substance, and the gradual technology-led breakdown of real, meaningful communication and connection as we withdraw further and further into the digital domain of our addictive devices. A subject depressingly ‘dear’ to my own heart, I first heard this song the day after laughing at an all-too-true take on Rudolf F. Zallinger’s classic March of Progress evolution illustration, only this time the 21st century Homo Sapiens was tumbling over a cliff as he gawped moronically at his smartphone screen.

An album highlight is the powerful, dramatic Stop the Pain, boasting an impassioned vocal performance from Kilbank, who, unlike the shared lead vocal duties of Travelers, is at the mic for all of Fire on the Horizon’s vocal tracks (bar Just Let Go, on which the duo harmonize). It is unclear whether Kilbank is referring to physical pain or mental anguish, and from a personal perspective or on behalf of us all, but the overall effect is highly emotive.

The questioning continues in the Randy Newman-esque Do You Wonder Why. Opening with the line, I see the world get worse each week / You can’t deny it looks quite bleak, it implores us to try not to worry about unfolding history we can have no influence on or control over, after which some light relief comes in the form of Outbound, a faux-reggae number glowing with Vancouver Island pride. It asks why we should go to all the bother of vacationing abroad, with the attendant hassles of international travel these days, when we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I relate to this directly, exploring my hometown on an ongoing basis to learn its history and unearth its wonders, quirks and secrets.

Elsewhere there are two sublime Bezooyen instrumentals, Fading Light and Consequential, of a quality that would not be out of place on a vintage Windham Hill release.

In That’s My Story, concerning “making peace with the choices made in life,” Kilbank delightfully manages to rhyme purgatory, allegory and vainglory. Good work, sir.

You Say is an interesting song, seemingly an examination of shallowness and the very human trait of saying one thing but inwardly believing quite the opposite. It challenges the notion, for example, that someone would do anything – as in anything - for love, and boasts such neat lyrical imagery as, Our words have become the clothes we wear / Chosen to suit each event…dressed for the roles we invent. I really like these ideas, approaching concerns about human behavior from unusual angles.

Despite the underlying, inquiring seriousness of much of Fire on the Horizon, these compassionate musicians nonetheless retain a positive attitude to life, as amply illustrated in Travelers’ closer, Joy. Although not wrapping up this new album, as perhaps it should, a similar sentiment is expressed in Bezooyen’s Just Let Go, bearing the sole repeated lyric, If you want to be free, just let it go. Featuring soaring backing vocals from The Hermit’s Music stablemates Cali Massey and Mary Faherty, it’s a consolatory mantra that, intended or not, again encourages us to throw off the shackles of helplessness brought on by awful events we can only observe in despair, and over which we can have no sway.

I like the path Kilbank and Bezooyen are on. This album, they say, is intended to “provoke debate, reflection and change,” and by asking direct questions and articulately voicing concerns in a conversational manner they do so but avoid sounding clichéd or hackneyed. And by skilfully balancing gravitas and lightheartedness the duo delivers a satisfying listen, one that sparks topics to mull over while humming along to some very pretty folk melodies.
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[1] David Morrison is a music industry veteran boasting wide-ranging experience spanning five decades. Music is more a lifestyle than career for Dave, who is in some way engaged with music and its industry every single day of his life. He promoted over 300 shows in the UK, hosted radio shows both there and in Canada, and has worked in music retail since he was a teenager. For almost twenty years Dave has written about music for magazines the world over, and as such has been viewed as something of a tastemaker and passionate authority on the huge spectrum of music he loves. As a former A&R man, band manager and consultant he has worked very closely with, for and alongside musicians around the globe.
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credits

released February 5, 2016

Dave Kilbank: Music and Lyrics for tracks 2,4,7,9,12 & 13
Lead vocals, 12 string acoustic guitar, synth and percussion tracks, Recording, Mixing and Mastering

Paul Bezooyen: Music and Lyrics for tracks 1,3,10 & 11 and composed instrumental tracks 6 and 8.
Harmony vocals, 6 string acoustic guitars - Rhythm and Lead, Bass Guitar

Track 5: Music and Lyrics co-written by Dave Kilbank and Paul Bezooyen

Cali Massey and Mary Faherty: Background Vocals on tracks 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13

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Dave Kilbank and Paul Bezooyen Nanaimo, British Columbia

Kilbank, former host of CHLY 101.7 FM’s Songwriters Circle radio show, met Bezooyen in 2007 and this productive songwriting team was born. Kilbank and Bezooyen continue to develop The Hermit’s Music as a label, music publishers, and community of like-minded musicians.
Together they draw from a diverse range of influences including the Alan Parsons Project, Joni Mitchell, CSN and Acoustic Alchemy
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Track Name: Fire On The Horizon
Searching for pathways through moonlit valleys,
Balance on stepping stones in swirling eddies.
This could be beautiful; this could be treacherous,
Hungry wolves are closing in on us.
It's always been this way – millstone turning endlessly.
Daily bread and daily prayers – daily hope for better days.
Fire on the horizon – embers light the night.
Paralyzed by choosing between fight or flight.

Bright light billboards show lovers kissing,
I should be happy but something's missing.
Commuter train windows frame vacant faces,
Consumer train eating holes in wild places.
It's always been this way – work to live, escape the pain.
Daily bread and daily prayers – daily hope for better days.
Fire on the horizon – embers light the night.
Paralyzed by choosing between fight or flight.

Instrumental

Billions of people make trillions of choices,
No truth is heard in all these voices.
The world is shaped by deeds or inaction,
Weeds overwhelm this untended mansion.
It's always been this way – millstone turning endlessly.
Daily bread and daily prayers – daily hope for better days.
Fire on the horizon – embers light the night.
Paralyzed by choosing between fight or flight.
Track Name: Matter Over Mind
There once was a time when the printed word was prime,
Then we watched TV. Matter over mind.
Images everywhere, on our phone, the walls, in the air,
And they're watching me. Matter over mind.
Hey there Big Brother
I'm feeling smothered
I need another kind...

We all want to be in touch with reality,
Then we interface. Matter over mind.
We used to talk two-way, but now we're just texting all day,
At an instant pace. Matter over mind.
I think it's trending
The hits ascending
The never-ending kind...

Spans of attention are shorter anyhow.
Media is the message now.
Mind over matter is too much grist to grind.
They feed us matter over mind.

Oh I wish I knew what mattered,
Oh I wish I knew my mind,
So I could find the answer,
Questioning what is left behind.

The future looks so bright that we wear our shades at night,
But they're Live On-Line. Matter over mind.
Virtual Life is here, we just need the upgraded gear,
And our precious time. Matter over mind.
Is is connection?
Or real rejection?
The misdirection kind.

Spans of attention are shorter anyhow.
Media is the message now.
Mind over matter is too much grist to grind.
They feed us matter over mind.
Track Name: Enslaved
Serpents and fire, gold and jade.
All of the pleasures that man has made.
All that you earn is later on paid,
To serpents and fire, and gold and jade.

Chorus:
Like the pull of the moon on tides, my heart is enslaved by this.
Like a dreamer inside a dream, my soul is enslaved by this.
Can the course of our fate be turned? Can we fly with wings unfurled?
Can the fox outsmart the hound? Can the mouse outrun the owl?

Hands and eyes, and touching souls,
Sharing our lives as our dreams get sold.
To bear all that pain; that story's quite old,
Of hands and eyes, and touching souls.

(chorus)

Beyond my ears, and in my heart,
And old sound is piercing me like a dart.
Urging me on to make a new start,
Beyond their eyes, and in my heart.

(chorus)
Track Name: Stop The Pain
It comes - It goes - How can I stop it if it ebbs and flows?
It lives - It breathes - How can I kill it when I am on my knees?
It lurks - It sneaks - Trying to fight it turns the days to weeks!
It hits - It soars - Trying to beat it is slamming all the doors!

Stop the pain! Stop the pain! Stop the pain and start the healing.
Stop the pain! Stop the pain! Stop the pain and start the feeling good.

Too many people live with pain and sorrow - What’s up with that?
We all dream that we’ll be free tomorrow - What’s wrong with that?

I run - I hide - How can I trick it when it starts inside?
I smile - I laugh - Trying to mock it when it’s my better half!

Stop the pain! Stop the pain! Stop the pain and start the healing.
Stop the pain! Stop the pain! Stop the pain and start the feeling good.

Too many people live with pain and sorrow - What’s up with that?
We all dream that we’ll be free tomorrow - What’s wrong with that?

Stop the pain! Stop the pain! Stop the pain and start the healing.
Stop the pain! (Before I) go insane! Stop the pain and start the feeling good.
Track Name: Do You Wonder Why
I see the world get worse each week,
You can't deny it looks quite bleak,
You've got big men with big guns who justify with double-speak.
Still I keep smiling – Do you wonder why?

I talk to people every day,
You won't believe the things they say,
They've got big mouths and big heads but act like little children at play.
Still I keep smiling – Do you wonder why?

Chorus:
Mother Nature's got an ace up her sleeve,
Surprises that we just can't conceive,
The dinosaurs got no reprieve,
No need to make a fuss – it's all so much bigger than us...

Instrumental

They say that's just the way it goes.
You all could fall like dominoes.
We've got big plans and big deals with propaganda videos.
Still I keep smiling – Do you wonder why?

Chorus ( twice )
Track Name: Outbound
A lot of people in this town today.
Wanna take a big long holiday,
Or maybe even move far away from here.
The grass is greener in some other place.
They think they need that for their happy face,
and they really want to win the race this year.
There's no way that staying home is more fun,
until the day you see it lit with new sun,
No preconceptions – an open mind is never done.

Chorus:
Outbound – but don't bring your suitcase down.
'Cuz you won't need a hotel when you travel around your town.
Outbound – but don't buy a new suit or gown.
And you don't need a passport when you travel around
as a tourist in your own home town.

A lot of people say “Well I've done that.
I've been there so I know where it's at.
And I admit I think it's kind of flat, you know.”
But if you look at it with open eyes.
You might get a really cool surprize.
And find yourself newly energized to glow.
There's no high currency exchange rate.
There's no line jammed up at the boarding gate.
No cancellations – you'll never have to wait.

(Chorus)

A lot of people in the world today
visit this town for their holiday,
And when they get here they're just blown away with awe.
So try to see it through a tourist's eyes.
You will discover that you feel likewise,
And find yourself overlooking any flaw.
Toss the maps and books of translation.
Close the apps, forget inoculation.
No Montezuma's Revenge on anyone!

(Chorus)
Track Name: Can't Get There From Here
I want peace for all the world, but I can't get there from here.
I need love from a beautiful girl, but I can't get there from here.
I've given everything I ever had, ever since I was just a little lad,
And though I always fail, and sometimes get mad,
I won't turn the good boy bad.

(Chorus)
Eyes on the prize. I can almost see it; it's near.
No big surprise. I just can't get there from here.

You want peace and love like me, but you can't get there from here.
We need everyone to feel free, but we can't get there from here.
It shouldn't be too much to ask,
With everybody working on the very same task,
So please don't hide yourself behind a mask, or drown in a spirit flask.

(Chorus)
(Instrumental)
(Chorus)

(Bridge)
The door is locked, and the window is barred,
A barbed-wire fence built around your yard,
Keeping you safe, but making exploring hard.
The road is blocked, and there's no u-turn,
The ferry is sunk, and the bridge is burned,
Flights are cancelled, but I am not concerned.

Eyes on the prize. I can almost see it; it's near.
No big surprise. I just can't get there from here.
Eyes on the prize. I can almost see it; it's near.
No big surprise – I believe I'll get there from here.
Track Name: You Say
You say you'd do anything for love,
believing it's a gift from above.
But the lonely child inside is afraid of how much love hurts.

You say you're quite happy and content.
Your words make you sound confident.
Self-doubt is your companion. It whispers sweet nothings to your soul.

Chorus:
Our words have become the clothes we wear,
chosen to suit each event.
Black tie or sexy, drab or in vogue,
dressed for the roles we invent.

You say you're intrigued by the news,
expressing your well-reasoned views.
But it's not how you feel. You'd rather watch them all burn in hell.

You say you're a champion of the truth.
Seek solace in a confessional booth.
Your deeds and intentions are simply a search for redemption.

(chorus)

Bridge:
Teachers, and preachers, and bibles,
talk shows, and television idols.
Searching for answers just raises more questions.
These words mean nothing at all.
These words mean nothing at all.
These words mean nothing at all.

You say you'd do anything for love,
believing it's a gift from above.
But somewhere deep inside
memories reside of
how much your true love will cost,
how much your true lover loves,
how much your true love is asking of you.
Track Name: Just Let It Go
If you want to be free,
just let it go.
Track Name: That's My Story
There have been a few things in my life I regret,
but that's all in the past.
There have been a few more that I'd like to forget,
but the memories last.
They all seemed like the right things to undertake,
so I would do them again.
And I believe I have learned from each mistake,
so I won't make them again.

That's my story.
Live from Purgatory.
It's an allegory
of vain-glory.

There have been a few times in my life I was fooled,
but that's all in the past.
There have been many more when my heart over-ruled,
but the mold was still cast.
I was always so sure that I wouldn't break,
so I would do them again.
And I believe I have learned from each mistake,
so I won't make them again.

That's my story.
Live from Purgatory.
It's an allegory
of vain-glory.

There have been a few friends I held close then let go,
but that's all in the past.
There have been several women who said Yes then No,
but forgiveness is vast.
They are all welcome back for a fresh retake,
yes I would do them again.
And if we've really learned from each mistake,
then we won't make them again.

That's my story.
Live from Purgatory.
It's an allegory
of vain-glory.
Track Name: Parting Song
It's time to go, but we want you to know,
We've enjoyed being here for a while.
But when we're gone, remember this parting song,
And go into the world with a smile.

We all learned something new during our time,
Maybe even shifted the paradigm,
Now we can all hold our heads up high...
And say goodbye.