- Order number: 32030
- Band/Artist: SOLSTICE
- Format: CD
- Genre: PROGRESSIVE
- Erscheinungsdatum: 27.11.2020
Splendiferous sixth studio album from neo-prog veterans!
While not as prolific nor as high-profile as some of their early 80s British neo-prog contemporaries, and having had two long periods of self-imposed hiatus, Solstice return rejuvenated as they belatedly follow up 2013’s Prophesy with an album that’s easily one of their best. With only one change from the Prophesy line-up, in the form of vocalist Jess Holland replacing Emma Brown, guitarist and sole original member Andy Glass leads his combo through five new tracks - but Sia (“six” in Scottish Gaelic) is definitely quality over quantity.
Lengthy opener Shout sets out the Solstice stall very comprehensively. Alongside fourth track Stand Up, the band pull off the neat trick of marrying funk, folk-rock and the merest hint of 90s pop, with Jenny Newman’s violin never far from centre stage. However, Shout’s 12 minutes also showcases other sides of the band - sometimes urgent, sometimes reflective and soulful, sometimes exploding into driving, odd time work-outs. It embodies the album’s undeniable organic flow. Mention must be made of Andy Glass’ guitar playing - a hugely underrated musician, he sounds equally convincing being warm and bluesy on Seven Dreams, throwing out a bit of dirty riffing on Shout, undertaking clean and delicious acoustic picking in Long Gone and creating ambience and atmospherics elsewhere. While everyone turns in great performances, Jess Holland deserves to be applauded for her debut here. Terrific whether singing gorgeous multipart harmonies with herself on Love Is Coming, for the great tenderness and fragility she expresses throughout Long Gone, the highly effective duet with Andy Glass on A New Day or the sprightly delivery she gives some of the more upbeat moments in Shout. Hopefully, the band can keep this line-up together since it seems to have created such a positive synergy.
For long-time fans, there is also an added bonus track, a reworking of Cheyenne from 1984’s Silent Dance recorded by the current line-up, which makes for an interesting compare and contrast. But Sia doesn’t sound like a nostalgia act wistfully reaching for past glories, neither is it an album of techno flash or playing for playing’s sake, and proceedings rarely go to a full 10 on the rocking-out scale - it’s an album of lush, refreshing and emotionally nourishing compositions, a very contemporary feel, sumptuous sounds and marvellous melodies, performed with real passion and conviction that nevertheless remains true to the sensibilities Solstice have embodied since the early days.
Review: GARY MACKENZIE / Prog