When progressive rock trailblazers Crack The Sky released their 20th studio album, From the Wood, back in June, they accomplished a milestone most bands only dream of. Celebrating an incredible 45+ years as a band, Crack The Sky still manages to break new ground with the release of their first primarily acoustic album. Covering everything from isolation and mental health struggles, as well as social and political issues, From the Wood was created to inspire, incite, and soothe listeners. And by creatively incorporating unconventional instruments such as ukuleles, banjos, accordions, djembes, mandolins, and even a toy piano, Crack The Sky further proves their status as the pioneers of prog-rock.
Though originally from Weirton, West Virginia, Crack The Sky has been an institution of the Maryland music scene since the release of their self-titled debut LP in 1975. Though Rolling Stone claimed it to be 1975's debut album of the year, a distribution error made by Crack The Sky's then-label left physical copies hard to come by in most places. But, by a stroke of luck, there was one city that received a surplus of records, and the album skyrocketed in popularity in the area- Baltimore, MD. Thus creating a mutual love and appreciation between the band and Marylanders, the latter adopting Crack The Sky as an honorary hometown band. Now, more than 45 years later, Crack The Sky- who consists of John Palumbo on lead vocals, guitar, and keys, Rick Witkowski and Bobby Hird on guitars and vocals, Joey D'Amico on drums and vocals, Glenn Workman on keyboards and vocals, and Dave DeMarco on bass and vocals- plans to commemorate their 20th album release with select tour dates, mainly consisting of Maryland shows.
From the Wood's tracklist is full of standouts, including the album's opening song, "I Get High," and both the third and fourth tracks, "My New World" and "Fun in Isolation." Diving head first into the album's themes, "I Get High" is about life's hardships and the various methods people use to cope. Though lyrically a bit glum, plucky strings, fast keys, and a steady beat give the track a cheerful disposition. "My New World" keeps things on the darker side by lamenting about a changing world from the perspective of a skeptic. However, keyboard riffs, vocal harmonies on the chorus, and a stunning display of percussion via cymbal help create a beautiful, ethereal ambiance. But as early-blues-rock reminiscent "Fun in Isolation" comes on, Crack The Sky kicks up the energy on From the Wood. Speaking on the madness created in the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic and wanting to escape from it all in the peace of isolation, what truly makes this song exceptional is the toy piano solo a little after the two-minute mark.
Potentially the most emotionally powerful track on From the Wood, "Don't Close Your Eyes" tells a tragic tale of succumbing to mental health struggles and the toll that kind of loss has on loved ones. While Palumbo is one of the original songwriters for the song, it was initially released in 1988 by Maryland-native glam metal/hard rock band KIX on their fourth album, Blow My Fuse. However, Crack The Sky softens the former power ballad with smooth, temperate crooning and the gentle strumming of melodic guitars, giving it an even more somber ambiance than before.
Other noteworthy songs on Crack The Sky's From the Wood include track seven, "Heart of the Lion," and track nine, "Don't Feed the Tigers." A blast to the past with its classic rock sound, "Heart of the Lion" pays homage to Ukraine. With the capital city of Western Ukraine, Lviv, being named after and represented by the lion, the song encourages citizens of the country to keep pushing by reminding them of their strength. Another track with a blues-rock vibe, "Don't Feed the Tigers" talks about the risks and potential downfalls of putting blind faith in a government.
Bringing From the Wood to a whimsical end is the hopeful closing track, "Circle of Life." All about feeling at peace and being one with the universe, the vocal harmonies help to enhance the song's dreaminess. As "Circle of Life" comes to a close, so does From the Wood, leaving listeners in a pleasant state of calm and tranquility.
After more than 45 years as a band, Crack The Sky's release of their 20th album, From the Wood, shows beyond doubt the band has no intention of slowing down any time soon. A staggering display of creativity, talent, and musical innovation, From the Wood perfectly demonstrates why the band is considered the precursor of progressive rock. Celebrate with Crack The Sky as they honor their time and journey as a band at one of the select tour dates through 2024, with more to be announced soon, listed below:
November 3, 2023, at Rams Head Onstage in Annapolis, MD (8 PM show)
November 4, 2023, at Rams Head Onstage in Annapolis, MD (8 PM show)
November 5, 2023, at Rams Head Onstage in Annapolis, MD (1 PM, all-ages show) Matinee
November 24, 2023, at State Theater of Havre de Grace in Havre de Grace, MD (8 PM show)
November 25, 2023, at Hub City Vinyl in Hagerstown, MD (8 PM show)
January 12, 2024, at The Paramount in Huntington, NY (8 PM show)
January 13, 2024, at Club in Edgewood, MD (8 PM show)
January 14, 2024, at Ardmore Music Hall in Ardmore, PA (7 PM show)
Keep up with Crack The Sky & future show announcements here.