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Alan Reed - Honey On The Razor's Edge CD (album) cover


Alan Reed


Crossover Prog

3.66 | 40 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Alan Reed releases his second solo album, Honey On The Razors Edge, and a mighty fine work it is, too. The former alumni of Pallas and Abel Ganz proves beyond doubt that he is capable of producing music that is relevant and vital to the genre we love, as it continues to grow in the 21st Century.

A word of warning. This is not a traditional neo prog album, by any stretch of the imagination. It is far more than that. It is the sound of an artist determined to grow beyond his roots, and with the capability to surprise, as well as delight us.

The album cover itself gives us a clue as to what follows when the disc is inserted into the player. Spartan, yet majestic in its simplicity.

Reed has assembled a very capable group of collaborators to share his vision, and I especially enjoy the contributions of Scott Higham on drums, whose work with Pendragon was superb, and the gorgeously talented Monique Van Der Kolk, with backing vocals returning the favour Alan did her excellent band, Harvest, who I have championed on this site. We also have a turn by Steve Hackett & Christine Booth, amongst others. A very special mention is due to Mike Stobbie on keys, Reed's old bandmate, whose layers are extraordinary.

The album bookends, My Sunlit Room, and Northern Light, are, perhaps, about the most recognisable blasts from the past. The opener fairly races along, and most reading this review would recognise immediately the need for a bolt hole from the pressures of modern life, a sunlit room where one can be oneself in peace. The album closer, Northern Light, transports you to a Scotland, Nordic lands, and Europe we share and hope will bring us together in troubled times, and the wall of sound is reminiscent of days of Pallas yore. Razor is a dark, edgy, affair, but the album really comes alive with a blast of sound in Cross My Palm, full of screaming guitars and lush sounds. There is also a good, old fashioned, rocker in The Covenanter. Stobbie is exceptional on this.

The star, though, throughout, is Reed's voice. Leaving is a track which demonstrates this to great effect. There is a fragility in this track, with Reed and backing vocals putting together a piece with fantastic keys and pipes effects creating a lush Celtic vision of love and separation. This theme is continued, beautifully, in the words, music, and themes, of a love in danger of exploding into war, The Other Side of Morning. This is intelligent rock music, featuring a heavy bass lead overlaying keys, Higham's drums, and acoustic guitars creating an emotional nine minutes of music. At the heart of it, as with all of the rest, is Reed. As much as I love his music with his former bands, I truly believe he has taken his song craft and vocals to a higher plain on this work. There is also one thing for sure. Personal experience is at the core of this, as with the best songwriters works. The contrasting moods are a joy to listen to.

However, all of the above utterly pales into insignificance when Used To Be Someone fills your senses. If I hear a better track in 2017, then it will be a damned special affair. Celtic, emotional, lush, full of crackling sound and emotion, this is so achingly beautiful as to defy mere words. When I first played this a couple of weeks ago, my wife came into my study, stood listening without a word, and, when the last notes had disappeared into the ether, informed me that this was one of the most lovely songs ever. It really is so achingly beautiful, and Reed sounds so fragile over a lilting guitar solo, before the track explodes into a rush of sound and emotion, as the story of a love thrown away takes you to a different existence altogether. Simply bloody wonderful, and quite staggering. Thank you, Alan.

I think this is the sort of album this website was born to highlight. Progressive music that will appeal to both purists and those, and there are many, who want a wee bit more than clever time changes, and think that artists who are progressive, should, ahem, progress. Alan Reed delivers, in spades, and I despair that it will never receive the attention it truly deserves. Treat yourself. It is available via Caerllysi Music, and well worth your ten quid.

Four stars for a fine album, and highly recommended.

lazland | 4/5 |


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