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(50:09; Melodic Revolution Records)
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this is album is the follow-up to Steve’s wonderful concept album ‘Stargazer’, as not only is there a “2” in the title the album art is also a direct follow-up. The story here takes place some 20 years on from where the last album finished, and interestingly has been left so Steve can return for a third album if he so desires. Although it may seem this is a band album, yet again it is Steve displaying his multi-instrumental skills as well as bringing in some friends to help him out. None of these were involved in the other album, but with long-time associates Peter Matuchniak and Jimmy Keegan (both who are in Steve’s live band), plus the likes of Marco Minnemann, they all slot right into the groove. Steve’s combination of melodic rock, progressive rock, and damn easy to listen to hook-laded songs always make his albums a delight from start to end. The story is detailing in the fold-out digipak, but the lyrics clearly tell it as well, and the result is something which really does need listening to from start to end, as opposed to being dipped in and out of (and certainly never to be played on shuffle, a concept I have never managed to get my head around). While all those involved are masters of their craft, Steve’s albums are always all about the songs as opposed to “look at me aren’t I clever” workouts. He can move from Seventies funk and soul into hard rock, with the bass being as important as the guitar, using dated keyboards, or we can be driven into staccato repeated riffs with piano. The ideas never stop coming, the album keeps moving forward and the listener is taken with it. I listen to a great deal of music which can be termed intense, from complex prog to technical death metal, improvised jazz, avant garde, and everything in between. Sometimes I want to listen to great tunes without having to work too hard at it, music which is designed for me to enjoy on every level as opposed to feeling I am being shouted at. Steve delivers time and again, and here is yet another album which is a delight from the first note to the very last.
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