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Steve Hackett - To Watch The Storms CD (album) cover

TO WATCH THE STORMS

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

3.77 | 348 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars To Watch The Storms might be Steve Hackett's best and most fully realized album, at least since Guitar Noir. Like on Guitar Noir, Steve is able to bring together a wide range of influences. From the classic prog rock of King Crimson and Genesis to Folk and World-music, jazz and classical. I get the feeling that this is the album Steve has been trying to make his whole life. And what a major improvement this is over the previous and disappointing Darktown album.

Thankfully, Steve handles all the lead vocals himself this time instead of having guest vocalists, something that I think has brought many of his previous albums down. And he sings as good as ever. The material on this album is very strong, among his strongest ever. The very 21th Century Schizoid Man-like Mechanical Bride is amazing, like a modern version of King Crimson really, but with Steve's own style and identity. Serpentine Song is also King Crimson-like, but influenced more by the softer aspects of Crimson's music. This song has excellent flute and a great acoustic guitar solo.

Brand New has excellent electric guitar work, and is another favourite of mine. This World is a soft melodic ballad, quite unlike Hackett's recent work. Rebecca is a wonderful folky ballad with a Genesis-like middle section. The Silk Road has Far-Eastern/Indian influences while Come Away is influenced by British Folk music - almost approaching Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span territory. Some tracks like Frozen Statues, Wind Sand And Stars and The Moon Under Water work as transitional pieces that might not be very impressive in their own right but that enhances the overall impression of the album as a diverse yet unified whole.

Everything sounds very modern on this album and the production is top notch. Steve's softer, acoustic side and his rock side have never been so well balanced and integrated on one and the same album before. In the past he usually went in one direction or another, making either an acoustic album or a rock album. Here he shows off all of his influences in one album.

Personally, I think that his previous album Darktown was a close to a disaster. It had horrible programmed drums and sequencing, almost as if it was a remix album rather than an original Steve Hackett album. Also, too many people were involved in making that album, including an inappropriate guest vocalist. The most important factor that makes To Watch The Storms so successful is the fact that Steve is backed by a real band this time. Indeed, this is not so much a "solo" project, as a "Steve Hackett-Band"- album.

The song that comes closest to the style of Darktown is The Devil Is An Englishman, which is better than anything from that album, yet probably my least favourite track here. It sounds a bit too much like it could have been on the soundtrack to a Tim Burton film (this would be even more true of several songs from his subsequent album Wild Orchids). But The Devil Is An Englishman fills the same role that Vampyre With A Healthy Appetite did on Guitar Noir and the title track did on Darktown.

To Watch The Storms is one of Steve Hackett's best albums. Not as personal and emotional as Guitar Noir but with even more diversity. Highly recommended!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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