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Steve Howe - Natural Timbre CD (album) cover


Steve Howe


Crossover Prog

3.54 | 53 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars By my count, Natural Timbre is the seventh proper Steve Howe solo album. (I'm not including the two Paul Sutin / Steve Howe releases, nor his Homebrew compilations.) If Turbulence (1991) was Howe's electric album, Natural Timbre is his acoustic set.

The first fifty-four minutes of Natural Timbre is made up of fifteen new songs - - thirteen Howe originals and two covers: a movement from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons (c. 1717) and an arrangement of a lute piece by 17th-century composer John Dowland. While this seems sufficient for an album of the CD era, the final eleven minutes of Natural Timbre is comprised of reinterpretations of three Yes songs.

This album can genuinely be called a "solo album" - - more than half of the songs feature only Howe, usually playing several tracks of guitars and related instruments. Keyboardist Andrew Jackman appears on two of the Yes songs, and violinist Anna Palm and drummer Dylan Howe (the artist's son) accompany Howe on a handful of others. Some sources credit Jackman as playing the recorder, probably on "Your Move." As was the case with Turbulence, there are no vocals on Natural Timbre.

Many of the songs are pensive, and I'd call more than a few amorphous: in the middle of the album, it almost seems like Howe hit 'record' and started playing a tune he had only sketched out, and then another, and another.

The Yes tunes are the strongest here: Jon Anderson's "Your Move," Chris Squire's "Disillusion" (both from The Yes Album, 1971) and the Relayer (1974) composition "To Be Over," which is credited to Yes as a whole, but was apparently largely written by Howe. Of course, regardless of the official writing credits, these were originally largely Howe-arranged pieces. All three are excellent, but it's not enough, in my opinion, to assign Natural Timbre three stars. To Yes fans, I'd strongly recommend downloading these last tracks. Otherwise, Natural Timbre is inessential.

patrickq | 2/5 |


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