Loss for Words is my first guitar-oriented instrumental album. The songs reflect both my present and past musical influences. The result is music that combines progressive elements from bands like Rush, Dream Theater, and Kings X, with melodic hard rock and metal elements from bands like: The Scorpions, Mettalica, Loudness, Racer X, Dio, and Iron Maiden.
At least that's what I think it sounds like. Your mileage may vary :)
Loss for Words Available for Digital Download
JRS - Loss for Words is now available as a digital download! Below is a direct link to ITunes. I'll add direct links to additional download services (Rhapsody, EMusic, MSN Music, MusicNet, MusicMatch), asap.
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JRS - Loss for Words
Loss for Words is available now from CD Baby! Click on the Buy CD logo, or click here to jump to the CD Baby website, where you can preview audio tracks and purchase your copy.
JRS Swag now available from Cafepress
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Click here to see the Loss for Words artwork, created by Matt Harpold.
Loss for Words track list
Loss for Words Reviews
From Progression Magazine, August, 2004. Review by Michael Popke:
JRS stands for Jeffrey Ryan Smoots, a multi-instrumentalist do-it-yourselfer from America. And Loss for Words, the fifth JRS CD, is what Smoots calls his "first guitar-oriented instrumental album." No argument there, as this disc encompasses many of the musician's guitar-heavy influences, including Rush, Dream Theater, King's X, the Scorpions, Metallica, Dio, and Iron Maiden.
From the healthy power chords and staccato arpeggios that segue into a soaring melody line to kick of the album opener "Unearthly Ambition," it's clear Smoots isn't your typical wanker. No guitar-god cliches. No self-indulgent shredding. Just solid rock guitar that borders on metal -- all written, performed, recorded and produced by a classy player with few (if any) pretensions.
Most of these 12 songs are so strong they don't need the boost lyrics might have given them. And on ultra-melodic, smartly structured pieces lik "King Lerxst" and the Southern Fried ["Cornfed"], Smoots lets his guitar do the singing more beautifully than most humans probably could. This guy should be a household name.
Ratings (0 to 4 stars): Sound = 3 stars, Composition = 3 1/2 stars, Musicianship = 31/2 stars, Performance = 3 1/2 stars. Total Rating 13 1/2.
From Prog4You, February, 2004. Review by Luis Nasser:
Finally, at long last!
Maybe I’m dreaming, or it’s a Christmas miracle, but for the first time ever I have in my hands a Fossil records release for review that actually boasts a very decent print job and design! Kudos to those guys for finally getting their act together on that front.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, we can focus on the music at hand, performed, written and produced by none other than Jeffrey Ryan Smoots. It’s really too bad this guy is not better known in the prog rock circle, because he is a damn fine player, writer and producer. Maybe it doesn’t help his cause too much among progheads that his albums aren’t built around 30 minute epics featuring every prog cliché in the book. Maybe it’s the fact that he does not feature mellotrons, milk odd time signatures and Journey chord progressions behind a veil of “jamming”. Perhaps his lack of renown could be also partly due to the fact that he certainly does not sing like a fairy about fairies. Hell, in this album JRS doesn’t even sing at all, simply letting his guitar do all the talking for him. Who knows why this album hasn’t received greater recognition? As far as I’m concerned, that’s a very sad thing, because this is a great album. A collection of twelve 4.00 to 5.00 minute tracks that are concise, chock-full of hooks and melody. And best of all, they ROCK.
I should also add that, in spite of the featured sequenced drums, this is a very solid piece of work, and a commendable job at the sequencer, almost equal to the tour de force by Goocher, reviewed elsewhere here at prog4you.
I hope a lot of people who read this give the music a chance. It should be of special interest to guitar enthusiasts, and those who like beefy prog, with strong hard rock influences. You’ll get a sample of every style, from metal to heavy southern rock, but always featuring excellent, memorable solos and playing without the usual guitar hero masturbatory excess.
Here’s hoping that this album gets the attention it deserves! Kudos to JRS for a damn fine collection of 1’s and 0’s that make my speakers go “Hmmm….”
Rating: 9 Stars
From Electric Basement, January, 2004. Review by A. Lee Graham:
Jeffrey Ryan Smoots is a one-man music machine.
Not only does the Washington wunderkind perform instrumental originals, he writes magazine columns, gives lessons and runs his own Web site. The Seattle musician's latest baby is Loss For Words. What it lacks in vocals, it more than compensates in rocking riches.
"Unearthly Ambition" proffers a sinuous groove that sticks like molasses, flows like honey, tantalizes like (insert favorite sugar derivative here). This is music sans agenda, melodies played for the sheer love of craft.
"King Lerxst" thickens things up, playing up downtuning. Again, harmony invigorates an already fresh melody. Then out of nowhere, drums shift direction, pushing the music in more exotic terrain. Just when the guitar portends Far Eastern exotica, keyboards signal another change, returning to the original theme. And all of this within 20 seconds! Grand ideas executed with subtlety.
"Builder" does just that, constructing soundscapes rich with keyboards and guitars. But in the end, it's merely aural wallpaper. Nothing special, but enjoyable nonetheless.
"Dog Robot" struts its wah-wah soul, layering acoustic guitar and bluesey bending. Yet it almost loses the plot. Almost. Thanks to Smoots' songwriting savvy, it hits new angles and never stiffs. Here's a guy determined to avoid lengthy guitar fusillades; instead, he treats instrumental music like pop songs. Melody rules, and it always supersedes shred.
But never fear. Fretmelting abounds, from the sweeped arpeggios of"Double Star" to the lithe, lyrical "Stadium Dreams." And that's the magic of Loss For Words. For every pinwheeling guitar passage, there lurks three catchy riffs. It's a winning ratio for musicians and casual listeners alike.
Smoots discovered that balance after earning his rep in the '80s. Building a home studio that inspired new strains of prog-rock - detours that explore infectious everyman melodies - Smoots rediscovered the instrument. Its gestalt enveloped him, and he quickly recorded several discs.
Loss For Words is an impressive testament to a man entrusting musicianship not to machines, but to his own fingers. Smoots learned drums, keyboards and bass, determined to preserve an organic feel. It worked.
While not perfect - Loss For Words sometimes devolves into generic harmonies and occasional filler - it's a promising chapter in a career that grows stronger every year.
Three out of five stars.
From Guitar Mania, Octoboer, 2003. Review by Mike Sandomirsky:
Every once and a while something very exciting happens in the world of Instrumental Guitar – an artist, usually a virtual unknown, creates something so fresh and vibrant that it sets a new direction for the masses to try and follow. To say that JRS – Loss For Words is that evolutionary link would be in my opinion an understatement. Loss For Words is by far one of the best releases to hit the underground music scene in a long, long time. Full of progressive elements and influences that span generations of recorded music. One can hear the intricate melodies of bands like Dream Theater or Threshold throughout all the compositions. Melodic sensibilities are showcased on all 12 tracks with an intertwining of sheer musical virtuosity and unique vision.
Loss For Words is an intense, melodic mix of progressive heaven. Mr. Smoots is an extremely accomplished all around musician. Handling all instrumentation on the CD with the guitar taking the forefront. Smoots melds all all of his insanely complex orchestrations together like a tight woven fabric to produce intelligent, complex music that is never pretentious. Never one to waste musical space, JRS knows how to construct an epic progressive composition that clocks in at less than five minutes.
From the get-go Loss For Words offers up some very technical, yet always melodic, well thought out compositions that strive to have something coherent to say. Every note of every composition is placed in exactly the right place, no excessive guitar wanking here, just perfectly constructed songs that take the listener to a unique destination combining influences from prog, metal, neo-classical, fusion and shred. All tracks feature exceptional musicianship delivered with passion and sensitivity. For all you tone connoisseurs, the entire CD is chock full of superbly crafted guitar tones in a nicely produced very good sounding package.
Highlights of the CD include:
“King Lerxst” – harmonized melodies, great guitar runs. A beautiful progressive smorg of guitar point, counterpoint.
“Double Star” – an introspective tune with loads of feel. A great keyboard/guitar intro sets this song up for some superb melodic soloing over a heavy groove.
“Skyward” – a fusion/Prog masterpiece. A showcase of Smoots all around musical talent. Tight delivery, absolutely huge harmonization’s, shred soloing – what more could a guitar lover want!!
Loss For Words far exceeds expectation, bordering on brilliant. Anyone who is a fan of quality progressive music will find this release irresistible.
From Dutch Progressive Rock Page, September, 2003. Review by Mark Hughes:
Loss For Words is the fifth album from American multi-instrumentalist Jeffrey Ryan Smoots (or JRS for short!). Following on from the 2001 Despair To Peace, a classical album dealing with the death of a loved one, Loss For Words, is a collection of 12 hard-edged, melodic, progressive rock songs with the emphasis placed firmly on the guitar. Citing such six string luminaries as Alex Lifeson, Ty Tabor and Yngwie Malmsteen as major influences and being a fan of progressive bands such as Dream Theater and King's X, it is not surprising that the album features a lot of heavy, and one might add, accomplished guitar playing.
But, it is not all-out fretwork histrionics, the writing is strong, has a high degree of melody and features some interesting twists and turns that keeps the attention. JRS handles all the instrumentation on the album - bass, keyboards, even live drums (although there are some programmed drums in places). However, it is the guitar that takes prominence. From the hard rock, multi-tracked onslaught on Mr Negativity, to the proto-grunge of Zeta Principle to the harmonised melodies on King Lerxst, this album has the lot for any discerning fan of the electric guitar. What is more, it is highly original material to boot. Sure, the influences are apparent in places, but just as you think that a track is settling down into, for instance, a southern rock groove, it veers off at an unexpected tangent.
Although there are variations in tempo, personally I would have preferred a few more laid back numbers to counteract some of the more 'in your face' tracks. Ambergris (which, trivia fans, is actually the discarded linings of sperm whale intestines used in the manufacture of perfume) is the closest that you'll get to a ballad. With a keyboard/guitar intro that is reminiscent of Michael Schenker-era UFO it has a hook line that will sit in your brain for days. But mostly the solo guitar (which has a definite touch of the Al Di Meola's about it) is left to soar over chunky riffs that some metal bands wouldn't be ashamed of.
Overall, the album was quite a refreshing change. It was good to hear a purely instrumental album that focused on short pieces. Although my periods of listening to heavy music are getting further apart and 'progressive metal' leaves me all but cold, JRS has come up with something that little bit different that I am sure to want to revisit at regular intervals in the years to come.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10
From Strutter'zine, August 2003. Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem:
Multi-instrumentalist JEFFREY RYAN SMOOTS has a new CD out titled ‘Loss for Words’. The album is filled with high class instrumental progressive melodic rock with a prog-metal touch here and there. It all sounds very impressive and the fact that Jeffrey did everything on his own is making this CD even more interesting. Songs like “Unearthly Ambition”, “King Lerxst” and “Zeta Principle” are great instrumental progressive melodic rockers. Every guitar freak should check out this awesome CD from Fossil Records. (Points: 8.0 out of 10)
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