James LaBrie’s excellent solo project shows that he’s more than just a phenomenally talented singer, but he’s a solid songwriter as well. With Dream Theater, LaBrie’s songwriting is rather undervalued among his virtuoso peers, but here you really see what he’s made of.LaBrie sounds excellent, visceral and strong and confident, far better than Dream Theater’s Falling Into Infinity, which was released not-so-long before this. His emotional expression is also impeccable, which is one of the reasons I love Dream Theater so much. Nowhere is this more evident than on the nondescript ballads. Mullmuzzler’s trips into the tunnel of love may have been awfully banal had the vocals not brought them up a few notches.The impassioned opener “His Voice” shows the album’s principal feel: melodic metal/rock with a progressive leaning. There’s some great quirky moments, like the Zappa-esque “Beelzebubba,” with its use of brass, and the audacious “As a Man Thinks,” which features melody shifts aplenty, bombastic vocals, and thoughtful lyrics. The sentimental rocker “Guardian Angel” and the mini-epic “Shores of Avalon” are also highlights. Each song offers something different thanks to considerable variety and tight musicianship. Overall, a great disc for James LaBrie fans.