Reviews roundup – Steve Hackett vs. Lauren Mitchell vs. Ash Wilson vs. Pleasureagony
The Night Siren
Steve Hackett’s latest solo album ‘The Night Siren’ carries on the fine vein of form he’s been in over the past few years.
He’s cleverly kept his profile high by regularly revisiting classic Genesis material which fans clamour for thus luring them into his new music which often hits the heights of his past. And this new album is no exception.
This time around he’s been recording with musicians from across the globe which may explain why the opening “Behind the Smoke” starts with some flamenco before heading off into a mid-tune Middle Eastern diversion. But this is not an album of Paul Simon like witterings.
No, it’s an album of depth which gives the listener a lot to be getting on with. He can take on pop, prog, rock and cinematic themes without ever losing a sense of Steve Hackett. For sure I’ve never been the biggest fan of his vocals but the music and instrumentation more than makes up for it.
As you would expect there is an array of guests popping in to do their thing but nothing takes away from the fact that this is a solo vision. His guitar playing just seems to get better over the years and if someone in radio land would give a play to a song “Martian Sea” or “Anything But Love” then wider crossover success might still be in his future. But whether or not that happens, prog fans will take this record to their hearts. And rightly so.
- LAUREN MITCHELL
Well if you’re going to sing the blues then your marriage breaking up and your band splitting, all in the same year, is a good way to go about it.
That was 2016 for Lauren Mitchell. 2017 however has brought her latest record and it’s certainly a big step forward for her. I’d heard her ‘Please Come Home’ album a few years back without it making a big impression but this one is a whole new chapter.
A mix of original material and songs previously sung by the likes of Etta James, Bettye Lavette, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin and Bette Davis show that she’s not afraid of a challenge, as those are some big shoes to fill. But at the end of the album you’re in doubt that she’s pulled it off. With a great production from Tony Braunagel (Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal and Robert Cray) bringing out the best in her voice and with some great musicians along for the ride, this is essential listening for fans of that place where blues and soul meet.
A single! From a seventies inspired power trio! When do you think this is? The good old days? That’s a lot of questions all pertaining to a single from up and coming blues rocker Ash Wilson.
He’s off on tour with Dan Patlansky in April so I would imagine this exists to help promote that because I can’t see anyone at Radio 1 rushing to playlist the hopeful Radio Edit of “Broken Machine”. The B-side is another album track – “Words Of A Woman” – both of which demonstrate his skills amply.
As I said when reviewing the album, it’s more rock than blues, but fans of kick-ass power trios should be checking him out.
Ah, nu-metal. How I hated you with a vengeance. You took the rawk and you sucked all the life out of it, then tried to sell me a shriveled husk. Mind you, that was an improvement on grunge, the only music improved by a bullet blast.
So whither German band Pleasureagony (all one word). After all, they are a nu-meal meets grunge band. And one that manages to spin a song out for ten minutes. Well they’re not as hateworthy as I would have imagined.
For a start they’ve actually got a few good songs. And when they take a sideways lurge into post-Black album Metallica they’re actually quite good. “Nerves Like Strings”, “Walk Beside Me” and “Prelude” are all strong as steel modern metal tunes well worth a listen. A few more like that and they’ll win me over. For the moment, though, this is a great EP stretched too far.