What does it sound like?:
Since his first solo album, in 1975, Steve Hackett’s popularity has grown, steadily and gradually. Although, if you read the mainstream music magazines and listen to the radio, you could be forgiven for thinking he retired years ago. In fact he is touring more than ever and, amongst the prognoscenti, he is revered as something of a Guitar God. At The Edge of Light is his 26th album and it is up there with his very best.
The title of the album is simply where he feels the world is currently at – right at the boundary between light and dark. Without being obvious about it, he has chucked Brexit, Trump, Russia and North Korea into a World Music melting pot (I wish)….and cooked up a delicious feast. There are echoes from North Africa, Turkey, India, Europe and the Southern USA.
This is probably his least acoustic album. There is plenty of light and shade, just none of Hackett’s trademark acoustic numbers which would hark back to his Genesis days. That said, he has written a batch of songs that are amongst some of the best he has written since the late ‘70’s. And his guitar playing seems to get better and better. The central core track, Those Golden Wings, is 11 minutes of beautiful chord changes, wonderful melodies, culminating in a blistering solo which roars out of the speakers. It will be an instant favourite amongst his loyal live audience and I can’t wait to hear it on the huge tour he has booked, later this year. Joyous!
Underground Railroad has a soulful feel, with some glorious gospel vocals, and suddenly you’re in the Southern States of America.
The album is beautifully arranged, with orchestral interludes that bind the songs together. Roger King on keyboards deserves huge credit for these arrangements.
The album ends with a trilogy of songs, Descent, Conflict and Peace, which are incredibly powerful. Conflict has a lovely nod back to Genesis and, once again, the orchestration is wonderful.
The album was mostly recorded at Hackett’s studio and the sound is immaculate. Apart from the usual Digital, CD and Vinyl versions there is also a CD+DVD which contains a 5.1 mix and a behind the scenes documentary.
What does it all *mean*?
It is a terrific album and deserves a wider audience than it will probably get.
Goes well with…
This isn’t background music. The album deserves to be played from start to finish. It has a musical arc that you miss if you have it on ‘shuffle.’
Might suit people who like…