What does it sound like?:
Steve Howe is an endlessly inventive guitarist with a lovely tone. His solos with the current day band are now the best thing about them, and he has been semi-Zelig in his popping up to contribute to a classic psychedelic number here (“My White Bicycle”), or a post-progressive supergroup there (“Heat of the Moment”). A less known phase is his more recent jazz-trio with son, Dylan on drums, and Ross Stanley on pseudo-Hammond, and his album “The Haunted Melody” has all the groove, early 60s saloon-bar swelling organ (sorry, I always have to use that phrase), and wit you would hope without an elf, falsetto, glittery cape, or Roger Dean cover in sight. I had hoped that “New Frontiers” would be in that vein, but definitely not. This is good in that Howe was not staying still, and here, with his son (and occasionally, Bill Bruford) on drums, and Ross Stanley, the music is never less than well-played, interesting, and musical. But I personally felt it did not swing as much as I like. This may be a matter of expectations, as “New Frontiers” burbles along never less than nicely, but equally, nothing really stands out.
What does it all *mean*?
Steve Howe can play what he likes, and it always sounds good. He thrives with sympathetic side men who can also punch their weight, and this is the case here. He suffers from that common ailment of those hugely successful in the 70s: “the brand becomes the band”, which has stopped Howe being able to have as much commercial success solo as he could with the albatross that is “Yes”. Nevertheless, his reputation will hopefully lead him to sell a fair few copies to persons still interested in well-played … well, I’m not sure. Not progressive, not jazz, not folk, not ragtime, but all instrumental and with a variety of twists and turns that keep you interested. I can imagine listening to this as part of my instrumental playlist when working, but it is very much ambient rather than an album to consciously put on, which “The Haunted Melody” was.
Goes well with…
Quiet Sundays workings away at the computer, coffee, late nights.
Might suit people who like…
Yes, Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin, Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Smith