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Solstice Spirit album cover
3.62 | 48 ratings | 5 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Solomon's Bridge (9:47)
2. Sky Path West (8:23)
3. Freedom (6:55)
4. Flight (7:26)
5. Oberon's Folly (8:51)
6. Here & Now (6:57)
7. Spirit (11:40)

Total Time 59:59

Bonus DVD - Solstice Live (Complete 2009 Pitz Club Show)
1. Morning Light
2. New Life
3. Sky Path West
4. Oberon's Folly
5. Ducks on the Pond
6. Chicken Train
7. Hear & Now
8. Pete's Solo
9. Cheyenne
10. Freedom
11. Flight
12. Sacred Run
13. Brave New World

Line-up / Musicians

- Emma Brown / vocals
- Andy Glass / guitar, vocals
- Jenny Newman / violin, viola
- Steve McDaniel / keyboards
- Robin Phillips / bass
- Pete Hemsley / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Allan Forsyth

CD + DVD Festival Music ‎- 201002 (2010, UK)

Thanks to toroddfuglesteg for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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SOLSTICE Spirit ratings distribution

(48 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

SOLSTICE Spirit reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars That's the spirit

Solstice is not a very prolific band with only four studio albums to their credit even though the first of these (and still the best) was released already in 1984. Spirit is their forth and latest album to date and it arrived some 14 years after the previous Circles album. While an improvement over that album, this is not quite up to par with the first two Solstice albums. The line-up of the band is radically different, but leader Andy Glass is still here as well as vocalist Emma Brown. The style is still recognizable Solstice, however, with its mix of Symphonic Prog, Jazz-Rock and Folk Rock with some New-Age "spirit" and World Music elements thrown in.

This album also comes with a DVD featuring a full live performance of the band from 2009. And though the studio disc is not entirely convincing on its own merits, the addition of the DVD to the set makes this release a worthwhile one. The studio disc opens with Solomon's Bridge, a rather long number that takes a while to get off the ground. It would have been wiser to open the album with Sky Path West which is significantly better and even up to par with the best Solstice tunes from previous albums. The fiddle has a more folky sound than the symphonic violin sound (think Kansas) found on previous Solstice efforts. This makes for a nice touch. Andy Glass is on fire on the guitars. The vocals of Emma Brown, on the other hand, are merely acceptable, but somehow lack something. Even if there are lots of vocals on this album, the overall feel of the album is as if it was an instrumental one.

Freedom is a rather annoying, political song with a long spoken word section encouraging the people to resistance against tyranny. While I agree with the message it does not fit the albums relaxed feel. Flight is better and features some very appealing, and surprisingly heavy, passages. Oberon's Folly also has some great folky passages as does Here & Now which is another good one. The closing title track is a bit too long for its own good though and left little impression on me.

Overall, Spirit is a rather decent album that will certainly appeal to the fans and followers of the band. With the addition of the live DVD, it becomes a worthwhile addition to any Prog collection, but by no means an essential one.

The DVD features songs from the band's whole career, performed by the current line-up in a smaller club. It is hardly an excellent show, but both the band and the audience seem to have a good time.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Solstice is one of those typical second tier prog bands that have been around for a while (it was formed in 1980, well past the already buried golden era) , releasing albums occasionally to satisfy some inner pledge of resistance to the fluctuations of the music market . Leader and superb guitarist Andy Glass cut his teeth as a Jethro Tull engineer as well as live lead guitarist for Bill Withers, the Temptations and bluesman Geno Washington. Let it be stated for the record that Andy Glass is a stunning fretman with impeccable technique and a rather unique style that transcends the usual suspects. His main outlet has been Solstice, a folk/neo prog group that has made an impact in prog circles with tasty albums such as Silent Dance, New Life and er? the less accomplished Circles! What makes this such a deal is the inclusion of a live DVD disc showing off their live talents, great idea as older compositions such as Cheyenne, New Life, Brave New World and most of this new album are now visible to the unbelievers.

The mood is immediately seductive on the shifting nearly 10 minute opener "Salomon's Bridge", a sensuous acoustic flurry beckons the violin forward, played by the ravishing Jenny Newman, as the keys, bass, drums and growling guitars suddenly enter the melee. Andy pulls on the strings a la Holdsworth , displaying an obvious genius in expressing himself with the guitar. Emma Brown's vocals are effective but frankly nowhere near the breathless qualities of fellow Brits Olivia Sparnnen of Breathing Space/Mostly Autumn, Karnataka's Lisa Fury or Joanna Hogg (okay, she's from Ulster!). Mention must be made of Pete Hemsley's rather superlative percussive work, a giant drummer at work here. "Sky Path West" is another longuish yet stellar track, arguably the strongest moment here, a rumbling Robin Phillips bass-led romp that exudes happiness and joy (near Mahavishnu /Santana territory), Glass really playing fondly on his axe, the fiddle sticking to the theme (fiddlesticks?). I mean , this is good stuff!!!!! "Freedom" is marred by some narrated political mumbo-jumbo that offers nothing new (empirical corporate fascism will never go away regardless how hard you try to revolutionize the world). "Flight" is a towering riff-laden journey that jets through the aural skies with serious hints of jazz-rock, some scat-vocalized "doo-ahhs" that are actually quite nicely pulled off. Steve McDaniel's snarling organ duels effortlessly with Andy pyrotechnical fret massages, a tremendous piece that rocks and fizzes. The mood needs to calm down and does so with the splendid Celtic-drenched "Oberon's Folly", the quintessential anguished plea of a troubled soul, giving Emma the platform to show off her hypnotic pipes on part 1 "Puit d'Amour" (Well of Love) while part 2 "Lady Muck" is entirely devoted to the wailing agony of Jenny's inspired violin. She is one hell of a fiddler on any roof! This piece sort of consecrates the essential qualities of this pleasant album, easily Solstice's finest moment. The voluptuous "Here & Now" simply continues on the folk/symphonic/ neo prog road and offers up a slight Middle Eastern tinge that is totally appealing. The raging guitars in particular are uniquely disturbing in tone and technique, while the fiddle screeches in the sandstorm orchestrations. The disc bows out with the epic title track, a dozen minutes of image-laden musical acrobatics that encompass the entire gamut of Solstice's credo, an adventurous, ingenious and talented expression of progressive rock symphonics. A mid- tempo spiritual tapestry with sitar-like twangs, a serene synth solo, sweet ethereal vocals and groove backdrop. Smooth and relaxed, almost effortless, baby! Andy gets to explore his Carlos Santana fantasies and spew all over the place, a huge technical solo that will scatter the leaves between your ears.

As for the DVD, it provides a glimpse into the world of musicians who are in it for the pleasure and not the fame (read money), a talented crew of musicians who defy the trends and do their thing brilliantly. Oh, and they are enjoying themselves too?.. What a sight, what a sound. This deserves being in any progfan's rotation. 4.5 gin and tonics, screwdrivers , cuba libres, scotch and waters.

Review by kev rowland
3 stars No-one can accuse Solstice of being one of the more prolific progressive rock bands around. Their debut album, 'Silent Dance', was incredibly influential when it was released in 1984, but they didn't release their next two albums until the Nineties, and this 2010 album was only their fourth. Guitarist Andy Glass has been the only constant through their career, but at least singer Emma Glass was still there from 1997's 'Circles'. Apart from these it is a brand-new band, as they are joined by Jenny Newman on violin and viola, Pete Hemsley on drums (I still have to pinch myself that the previous incumbent was Clive Bunker, originally from Jethro Tull), Steve McDaniel on keyboards and Robin Phillips, bass. No matter who the musicians are, this is still polished music, in quite a laid-back style. Solstice are often called 'neo prog', but this album is not nearly as punchy as that style often suggests.

Andy's guitar and Emma's vocals are often to the fore, and out of everything it is the vocals that lets the album down as although they are often excellent there are just a few places where she doesn't sound quite on key, and each time I cringe and wonder why they didn't just re-record those few words. The violin also doesn't get as much of an outing as one would normally expect, and the result is a prog album that in many ways is incredibly well polished, and has a lot going for it, with some strong melodies and interplay, but I do feel that this is more of an opportunity missed than one being grabbed with both hands. Their debut is a masterpiece, which I still play to this day, and I doubt they will ever match it. This is superior to their previous outing, but I prefer the 1993 'comeback' 'New Life' to this one as well.

Andy is a fine guitarist with a deft touch, and his lead melody lines are what make Solstice who they are, and if you are already a fan you'll probably enjoy this. If you haven't come across Solstice previously then you're missing a treat, but there are a couple of other albums of their that you should pick up first.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Solstice returned to studio action in 2010 with a lineup almost identical to that which had recorded The Cropredy Set - the swansong of their 1990s incarnation - save that Clive Bunker had departed the drum kit and was replaced by Pete Hemsley, who'd previously held the drummer's spot on the New Life. Far from allowing their sound to stand still, Solstice update themselves here - we're still talking a mellow New Age school of neo-prog here (or perhaps a mellow neo-prog school of New Age music at times), but with greater and more effective use of samples and more modern keyboard options.

On top of that, the production this time really seems to support Solstice's sound better than ever, with the end result being a chill, relaxing album which certainly hits the spot if you are in the mood for a taste of summer festivals. Jenny Newman, whose violin work on The Cropredy Set was a real eye-opening aspect of that release, trades lead soloist duty with Andy Glass capably, Emma Brown continues to hold down the vocals as she has since Circles, and by and large taking a decade or so of time off seems to have done the band a world of good.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Difinitely one of the best albums in 2010 Hearing through the album just by one time, I quickly realized that this album is one of the best this year. I had the same experience when I heard Karnataka's new CD. Guitar sings very melodic and so does violin (fiddle). Female vocals are beautiful ... (read more)

Report this review (#303032) | Posted by Katsuhisa | Saturday, October 9, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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