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Jon Anderson - Anderson / Wakeman: The Living Tree CD (album) cover


Jon Anderson


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3.43 | 95 ratings

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4 stars The Living Tree is Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman's debut album together, consisting of a simplistic combination of little more than piano and vocals. However, this instrumentation doesn't become in any way tedious over the course of the album; the music is soft, emotional and interesting throughout, standing up on its own two feet without the need for any further musicians. Wakeman adds expressive tone colour with various synths, strings and flute sounds, but the lyrics and chords are the main point of interest.

The calming, light melody of the title track sets the tone for the rest of the album, and it reprises itself mid-way through, which I like. Sometimes splitting up songs can be an exercise in futility, but there is a natural flow to this style of music that would be spoilt by anything + 6 minutes. 'Morning Star' is contrastingly energetic, with almost groovy piano and some nice vocal harmonies from Jon (I think this may be the one song where he plays guitar too). Already the duo prove that they can create varying moods and rhythms despite the lack of a band, and I eagerly await a similar verdict from a certain progressive rock group that is misisng two members... 'Anyway and Always' and 'Forever' are more examples of Jon's amazingly memorable melodies, while the slower 'House of Freedom' is perhaps the best demonstration of Rick's delicate but beautiful playing style that dominates this record (and indeed, a lot of his solo works).

Overall, this package is welcomingly devoid of filler, although a couple of songs' ideas seem to outstay their welcome somewhat. It's also very nicely produced, apart from Jon's vocals on the final track that sound a little weird. And as Wakeman himself said, the nine songs here are very high-quality compositions chosen from a much larger catalogue, and on probably six-seven of them, it really shows. I'm only sad that the pair didn't include some of the rearranged Yes tracks that they showcased on their accompanying tour; a future release of these would be welcome!

The Living Tree is a repeatably listenable album full of warm and charming music. It may not seem so significant at first, but there is a special chemistry between Jon and Rick that transcends many of their respective solo efforts. It lags in places, and of course there's nothing of the epic, progressive sort, but careful crafting and disposal of filler can go a long way.

thehallway | 4/5 |


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