Album Review- Steve Hackett, ‘The Night Siren’

Let’s get this out of the way: I’m a Steve Hackett fan.  I have been one since I first noticed his pioneering work in Genesis.  In fact, I don’t divide Genesis, as many do, between the Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel eras.  For me, the real shift came when Hackett left the band to explore working as a solo artist.  Since his departure from Genesis, Hackett has released over 20 albums and shown himself to be a musician of extraordinary range.  From uptempo progressive rock to blues to world music to modern concert (classical) music, Hackett has been unafraid to try new musical ideas and present the listeners and fans with something new.  Not all of his albums are masterpieces, but it is easy to appreciate his musicianship and the daring approach he takes to music.

Hackett’s latest release, The Night Siren, takes several diverse musical influences and puts them on display in a single showcase.  This was intentionally done.  As Hackett states, “This latest waxing represents a bird’s eye view of the world of a musical migrant ignoring borders and celebrating our common ancestry with a unity of spirit, featuring musicians, singers and instruments from all over the world.”  This desire to feature musical perspectives from around the world gives the listener a broad pallet of musical timbres to enjoy, including singers from Israel and Palestine, percussion from Iceland, and various instruments, including Uilleann pipes from the nearly ubiquitous Troy Donockley and Malik Mansurov playing the Azerbaijani tar.

It’s a rather audacious attempt.  The first track, “Behind the Smoke”, has a Middle-Eastern feel, the next (“Martian Sea”) recalls India, the next (“Fifty Miles From the North Pole”) starts out like a James Bond theme played with a Slavic backing band (before ripping into a sweet guitar solo), then it’s a modern classical piece (“El Nino”) that sounds not unlike something Al DiMeola would do with the World Sinfonia.  And on it goes…  While not everything works equally well on the album, the album largely works not because of its musical variety but because of what the songs share in common: Hackett’s guitar.
Night Siren has some of Hackett’s strongest guitar work collected on an album.  Whether it’s his classical stylings that form the base of “Other Side of the Wall” (a high point on the album) the flamenco introduction to “Anything But Love”, or his aggressive electric playing on “El Nino”, Hackett is in fine form on this album, and when a guitarist of his skill is in fine form, it is well worth the time and money to acquire and listen to the album.
Steve Hackett’s The Night Siren will be released on March 24, 2017, through InsideOut Music. Click here to preorder or buy.

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