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(42:04, White Knight Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. My Sunlit Room 4:08 2. Razor 3:46 3. Cross My Palm 5:47 4. Leaving 4:30 5. The Other Side of Morning 8:52 6. The Covenanter 4:53 7. Used to Be Someone 6:02 8. Northern Light 4:06 LINEUP: Alan Reed - vocals, guitars, bass, pedals, programming With: Mike Stobbie - keyboards Scott Higham - drums Jeff Green - guitars Claude Leonetti - leode Steve Hackett - harmonica Monique van der Kolk - vocals Laetitia Chaudemanche - vocals Christina Booth - vocals
Prolusion. Scottish composer and musicians Alan REED is best known for his 24 year long tenure as the front man for progressive rock band Pallas, a tenure that ended as abruptly and surprising for Reed himself as for fans of the band if my memory serves me well. Since that event a few years back Reed has launched a solo career. "Honey on the Razors Edge" is his second solo album, and was released through UK label White Knight Records.
Analysis. Alan Reed has been associated with neo progressive rock for the greater parts of his career as an active musician, and many expected that he would continue along those lines when he launched his solo career. While his first production as a solo artists took a few steps away from those landscapes, this second solo album is one that should come across as rather more familiar to those who have followed Reed and his past bands. Not that this album is a purebred example of neo progressive rock as of 2017. It does contain quite a few songs that are more or less within that territory however, and as such this will be familiar sounding music to fans of that breed of progressive rock. Personally my impression is that this is a CD made by someone that doesn't care nor cater to categories of this kind all that much, but rather use whatever elements he find appropriate and useful to create moods of a specific kind. One might also suspect that the various guests on this album may well have flavored the songs they participate on with their distinct sounds in a manner that have given these songs more of a character that suits their performances. Hence we have an album that does move around a bit. Majestic creations with more of a symphonic progressive flair to them have their place here for sure, as does the more elegant landscapes one typically associate with the neo progressive rock bands. Harder edged passages combining the classic partnership of guitar riffs and organ is a part of the greater totality to, and subtle folk-oriented details adds a light flavor to occasional sequences here and there. There was even an ever so slight and brief moment that made me think of new wave, albeit then due to vocals rather than instruments. Reed is on good form as a vocalist throughout, and with a strong emotional but controlled intensity he does carry and elevate this material and often to a higher level at that. The end result is a curiously contemporary take on progressive rock, one with numerous references to sounds and atmospheres from earlier times, but explored in a context that for some odd reason strikes me as contemporary sounding.
Conclusion. Fans of progressive rock in general and neo progressive rock in particular should take note of this easy to like and very well made second solo effort by Alan Reed. While I find the subset of progressive rock explored to not be limited to neo progressive rock as such, and some songs may have something of a more mainstream touch to them too, I rather suspect that the key audience for Reed as of 2017 will be those whose taste in progressive rock tends to hover around the neo progressive landscapes. A strong album though, and one that warrants a check by those who tend to enjoy the more accessible parts of the progressive rock universe in general.
Progmessor: August 17, 2017
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