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Solstice - New Life CD (album) cover





3.32 | 45 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars "You are the music, we're just the band"

Solstice is not a very prolific band as they have recorded only four studio albums throughout their 30 year existence (including the most recent one being released this year). Formed in 1980, this British band is basically a one-man project with the only constant member being guitarist and composer Andy Glass. This does not mean that this is a one-man show, however. The people Glass has around him here are as competent as he is and the sound is that of a full band rather than a guitarists' solo album. Apart from electric guitars, violin, bass, drums and female lead vocals are omnipresent. There are also some keyboards, but they are never to the forefront of the sound.

New Life from 1993 is the second Solstice album coming almost ten years after their debut from 1984. You might see this as a result of putting priority on quality over quantity, or you could see the band as a victim of the unfavourable climate for progressive music in the 80's and 90's. Whichever way you see it you cannot accuse Solstice of compromising their musical vision for popularity, as neither the present album nor the debut sound anything like products of their time. Rather, they have opted for a rather 'timeless' sound that clearly draws on the classic Prog-era without coming across as 'retro'. Like with the debut, bands that come to mind while listening to New Life are Renaissance (primarily from the latter half of the 70's), Yes (in their more 'relaxed' and less complex moments) and perhaps Kansas (in their less hard-edged moments). The Mike Oldfield similarities that were evident on the debut, on the other hand, seem to be somewhat relaxed here in favour of a more Dixie Dregs-like approach on some passages. In some respects this second album by Solstice is even better than the first one; it has a slightly more powerful guitar and drum sound and the voice of new lead vocalist Heidi Kemp is not as distractingly similar to that of Jon Anderson compared to Sandy Leigh who sang on the debut. But overall, I find this album slightly less enjoyable and less memorable than Silent Dance. But New Life is still a very enjoyable album that I'm sure will please anyone who liked the debut.

Other things that strike me while comparing the two albums is that the sound of New Life is less diverse; it has less acoustic guitars, less keyboards and less 'exotic' elements. Also, the bass guitar is a bit less powerful here. The songs on New Life are not incredibly complex, and while this is hardly easy-listening it might perhaps appear as such if you just came from listening to Yes' Relayer album or some intense and complex Jazz-Rock/Fusion. If you like Silent Dance, New Life is recommended for sure - a good companion to that first Solstice album.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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