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(54:36, Progressive Promotion Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Game 6:11 2. Life's a Glitch 5:46 3. Propaganda: Part Two 1:40 4. They Promise Everything 7:31 5. There's Still Hope 5:36 6. She's 6:48 7. Spider On The Ceiling 3:08 8. Clouds 12:26 9. One Sweet Word 5:30 LINEUP: Steve Hughes - drums, percussion, keyboards, bass, guitars, vocals, synths, programming, harmonica With: Richie Phillips - saxophone Dec Burke - guitars Maciej Zolnowski - violin Angie Hughes - vocals Katja Piel - vocals Keith Winter - guitars
Prolusion. UK composer and musician Steve HUGHES has a past playing for such prominent bands as Kino, The Enid and Big Big Train, and as such is a well known name for many due to this. In the last few years he's been focusing on a solo career however, one that have spawned three solo albums in a fairly short period of time so far. "Once We Were Part Two" is the most recent of these, and was released at the tail end of 2016.
Analysis. There will always be a market and interest in accessible, melodic progressive rock, and with his second studio album of 2016 Steve Hughes delivers one more album to interest those with an interest in this general type of music. One possibly to be filed under the neo progressive tab somewhere. Perhaps a bit surprisingly, as Hughes is best known as a drummer, the piano appears to be the key instrument on this album. While not always used nor prominent, a liberal and often constant presence of wandering piano motifs and some dominant slots provided to this instrument here and there emphasize the importance of the instrument. Often paired up with rhythm section and vocals solely, at other times with wisps of careful keyboard additions on top. We are treated with many fine passages of this kind, where the light toned vocals of Hughes soar in beautiful harmony with the piano. When the piano is given more of a supportive role, layered keyboards and organ will often take the dominant spot, often alternating with guitar solo driven sequences. Harder edged guitar riffs will at times give a darker edge to the proceedings, occasionally also given a few seconds to emphasize that the song currently is in a harder edged mode of delivery. At the most expressive the material here has an orientation towards symphonic progressive rock, albeit the accessible aspects of this approach to progressive rock one must add. Otherwise this is mainly elegant, flowing neo progressive rock, with some intricate and busy percussion details as the second key character trait besides the aforementioned piano. This is an elegant production, often playful and positive in spirit, only rarely shifting over to a more sombre mood, and where the distinct nod towards reggae in one of the shorter cuts is just one of many charming small details to be encountered. Another facet are passages with perhaps more of an ambient character to them, exploring the gentler and softer side of the progressive rock universe.
Conclusion. In a couple of years Steve Hughes have created and released some rather intriguing solo albums. As for this latest venture, I dare say that many fans of modern neo progressive rock should find this production to be a most charming one, even if not perhaps following all the expected cues from a production categorized in such a manner. Well made, well performed,. with quite a few moments of musical brilliance throughout.
Progmessor: October 28th, 2017
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