STEVE HACKETT – Wolflight (2015)
STEVE HACKETT has spent the last few years carrying the Genesis torch across the globe, seemingly reminding anyone who may gave forgotten that he had a lot to do with the much heralded Genesis ’70s period. But never wanting to stay the same for too long, Hackett continues to explore new territory both physically and musically, as is evident on his new album “Wolflight” to be released tomorrow, creating one of the most inspired albums of his career.
Since his split from Genesis in the late ‘70s, Hackett has put together a body of work that, with the odd minor caveat, has cemented his place in the pantheon of rock guitarists as one of the very best, and amongst progressive rock aficionados as the pre-eminent player of his generation.
“Wolflight” demonstrates that despite nearly fifty years in music he is still capable of producing a contemporary progressive rock masterpiece that both thrills and intrigues in equal measure.
From the opening of “Out of the Body” the cinematic mood is set. Hackett kicks off with a hard rocking track adding his signature lead tone that is immediately recognizable. There is always a heavy orchestral element to his albums and this one is no different. Here, the string accompaniment gives the song an urgency that is a new twist for a lead off track on a Hackettt album.
This opener is a short one that acts more as an intro to the title track, “Wolflight”, one of the most Genesis-like songs he has ever produced. There’s classical guitar and Hackett’s vocal harmonies compliment the music brilliantly. As he is known to often do, Hackett shifts the music from quiet and subdued to haunting and agressive throughout the piece. Certainly a highlight on the album.
Both tracks gives a foretaste of the banquet to come. And it’s some banquet.
From the middle-eastern vibes of the superb instrumental “Dust And Dreams” with its dominant, insistent bass line, to the pastoral acoustics of “Earthshine” and “Heart Song”, and from the childhood memories of “The Wheel’s Turning” with driving strings, acoustic guitars and harmonies recalling the Electric Light Orchestra to the relationship breakdown of “Love Song To A Vampire” the quality just keeps coming.
The latter is one of the strongest songs on the set and one that really only Steve Hackett could pull off. It combines the influence of flamenco guitar with an epic Prog Rock chorus complete with soaring background vocals. The contrast of these elements explodes from the speakers. Just as the song seems to be ending naturally, again he throws in a left turn by adding a total rock riff to close out the song. Truly inspired.
The anthemic “Corycian Fire” with its ever-changing rhythms and tempos is a standout, as is Steve’s take on the fight for the freedom of slaves in the deep south of the USA on “Black Thunder”, showing Hackett’s rocking bluesy side.
And running through all this brilliance is Hackett’s stunning guitar work, both electric and acoustic. Has he ever played better? I don’t think so.
Steve Hackett’s star is definitely in the ascendancy. “Wolflight” must be one of the strongest albums from his prolific career and is undoubtedly his most varied, instrumentally dazzling and evocative work for many years.
As usual, with the likes of Nick Beggs, Rob Townsend and Roger King he has surrounded himself with some of the finest musicians around, and the addition of a full orchestra, used in a powerful and innovative way, is the icing on the cake.
01 – Out of the Body
02 – Wolflight
03 – Love Song To a Vampire
04 – The Wheel’s Turning
05 – Corycian Fire
06 – Earthshine
07 – Loving Sea
08 – Black Thunder
09 – Dust and Dreams
10 – Heart Song
Steve Hackett – guitars, Arabian lute, twelve string, lead vocals
Roger King – keyboards, programming
Gary O’Toole – drums
Rob Townsend – sax, duduk
Nick Beggs – bass, stick
Amanda Lehmann – harmony vocals
Malik Mansurov – tar
Sara Kovaсs – didgeridoo
Chris Squire (Yes) – bass on 3
Hugo Dagenhardt – drums on 9
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