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Steven Wilson

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Steven Wilson To The Bone album cover
3.62 | 447 ratings | 14 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2017

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. To The Bone (6:41)
2. Nowhere Now (4:03)
3. Pariah (4:46)
4. The Same Asylum As Before (5:14)
5. Refuge (6:43)
6. Permanating (3:34)
7. Blank Tapes (2:08)
8. People Who Eat Darkness (6:02)
9. Song Of I (5:21)
10. Detonation (9:19)
11. Song Of Unborn (5:55)

Total Time 59:46

Line-up / Musicians

- Steven Wilson / vocals, guitars, producer

- Ninet Tayeb / lead (3,7) & backing (1,6,8) vocals
- Sophie Hunger / vocals (9)
- David Kollar / guitars
- Adam Holzman / keyboards
- Mark Feltham / harmonica (1,5)
- Nick Beggs / bass, Chapman stick
- Craig Blundell / drum
- Jeremy Stacey / drums
- Jasmine Walkes / spoken word (1)

Releases information

CD Caroline - CAROL016CD (2017, xW)

BD Caroline - CAROL016BR (2017, xW)

Thanks to AugustoR for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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STEVEN WILSON To The Bone ratings distribution

(447 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

STEVEN WILSON To The Bone reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars When we heard that Steven was making a Pop album, people were skeptical. Did he sell his soul to the devil? How can this artist that has a reputation to make some "serious Prog Music" can go in that direction? And then when we listen to the album we realized that he was probably already making music that contains some Pop in it, his Blackfield project is another example. What makes Steven Wilson a great composer is his talent to absorb all his past influences to create his own music. So, this album is not that different than it's previous solo album, sure it's less jazzy, experimental and metal, except for the longest track "Detonation" who has all the Wilson trademark."Pariah" is this gorgeous ballad brighten up by the voice of Ninet Hayeb and ending in an intense post-rock atmosphere. In the "Same Asylum Ase Before", he can go to a catchy chorus to a short Porcupine Tree heavy part.In the song"Refuge" the melody is developed slowly before the drums that remind me Manu Katché starts to bring the pace up to let the guitars and the harmonica take the lead in some intense playing. "Permanating" is the real Pop song of the album, enjoyable and placed carefully in the middle of the album to change the mood. "People who eat Darkness" could have been a Porcupine Tree song. "Song of I" show his influence for Kate Busch and Peter Gabriel but with some ambient soundscape, and with a little bit of middle-eastern music at the end. So, this is not a radical change in the solo career of Steven Wilson. I did find the similarity in his songwriting style with all his projects, and no he has not sold his soul to the devil, he is still the half-god half human we all know.
Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars Nothing like a little controversy to draw some attention to yourself. Steven announces his new album and how it's in the poppier mode and well let the discussions begin, as they have. The album cover is so immature and I'm not sure of the reason for that other than it's more controversy. Lots to like though over the one hour of music here, and much of it sounds familiar reminding me of PORCUPINE TREE and past Wilson solo albums. It does feel like a re-hash of sorts but there's some new ideas here as well but unfortunately they don't save this album for me.

"To The Bone" opens with spoken female words giving us Steven's kool-aid. It suddenly turns powerful with plenty of atmosphere and harmonica too. It becomes more open sounding when the vocals arrive a minute in. It picks up as the vocals continue. Lots of beats in this one and an extended guitar solo during the instrumental section. It's okay. "Nowhere Now" has reserved vocals and piano before it turns powerful a minute in, then it picks up with vocals. Catchy stuff.

"Pariah" is easily my favourite thanks to Ninet Hayeb's gorgeous and moving vocals. And that's the thing with this song it really moves me. "The Same Asylum As Before" has these expressive guitar melodies and a beat as these really high pitched vocals from Steven arrive(haha). When he sings normally this song turns into something that's really good. Like something off of "Stupid Dream" or "Lightbulb Sun". I like when it turns powerful before 2 1/2 minutes. Back to the chorus 4 minutes in before kicking back hard late.

"Refuge" opens with piano and fragile vocals. There's those high pitched vocals Steven seems intent on doing on this album. Yikes! I like when it kicks into gear following this and check out the harmonica too. followed by a guitar solo. Reserved vocals and piano end it. "Permanating" is my least favourite song by far. A catchy beat with drums, piano and mono-toned vocals. When it kicks in Steven uses his newly found high voice. And this does not work here at all.

"Blank Tapes" is a short laid back piece that's pretty good. "People Who Eat Darkness" reminds me too much of "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here" once it kicks in after the "F" bomb in the intro. Yes this sounds amazing but it's too familiar. "Song Of I" has percussion and a dark mood as reserved vocals join in. An electronic vibe to this one, lots of atmosphere halfway through. Some ethreal female vocal melodies later.

"Detonation" is the longest track at almost 9 1/2 minutes but it's far from the best track. Electronics as relaxed vocals join in with plenty of atmosphere. It kicks in surprisingly hard before 2 1/2 minutes. The vocals return as it stays uptempo. Some nice guitar after 7 1/2 minutes during the catchy instrumental section. "Song Of Unborn" is the mellow closer in the Steven Wilson tradition and it's one of my favourites from the album. The chorus is beautiful with vocals, piano, a beat and atmosphere. It does turn more powerful which I really enjoy.

A good album but there's too many things that I don't enjoy to offer up that fourth star.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars The last several years have seen British multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer extraordinaire Steven Wilson well and truly leave his Porcupine Tree past behind him and gradually hone a rewarding solo career that's been a mix of welcome experimentation and reliable expected moody alt-rock with lashings of both modern and retro-flavoured prog-rock. His last full studio album, 2015's `Hand. Cannot. Erase' delivered a mix of melodic tunes with experimental rock instrumentation that served as a good foot in the door for newcomers both young and older, so perhaps it was little surprise that Wilson might reign back his indulgences even that little bit more to capitalise on this fresh outside interest on a future recording. He's an artist that has managed to build great credibility and an elevated status but who can still fly under the radar just enough to allow himself to indulge in works like this, 2017's `To the Bone'.

Fuelled by THAT cover art, an early press release that proudly proclaimed the album as a pop work, a bouncy jangly pure-pop first single that had most of the prog-rock fans racing for the hills (and it's probably quite surprising that it wasn't a self-titled disc), `To The Bone' was instantly hit with the dreaded `sell out' tag and dismissed as career suicide. But careful and patient repeated listens reveal an album that has much merit, with plenty of the usual smart art-rock and blending of styles already associated with the well as some rather (slight!) disappointing surprises.

First issue to address: `To The Bone' is NOT a pop album, even if it has several more obviously poppy moments scattered throughout it. Nor is it so far removed from prog-rock as to be unrecognisable, and if anything many parts wouldn't have sounded out of place on mid-period `Stupid Dream/Lightbulb Sun'-era Porcupine Tree with their indie-rock crossover appeal. It's just that where his former bandmates (and even Wilson on his recent solo albums) would likely offering sublime instrumental passages, here Steven usually works in ambitious vocal arrangements of multi-part harmonies instead of show-boating soloing.

On to the disc - Steven and his frequent co-singer Ninet Tayeb open with the title track `To The Bone', a smouldering groover with plenty of ragged guitar soloing and a catchy lyrically defiant chorus, but for an album that many are ready to instantly dismiss as too straightforward or `pop', the piece also drifts into languid enveloping harmonies full of dreaminess in the climax that you sure wouldn't hear on the radio. `Nowhere Now' is just a great uptempo poppier tune that finds Steven in great spirits with a loved up and freed chorus. But the first `wow' moment of the disc has Steven teaming again with Ninet for `Pariah', a tender ballad that has already drawn comparisons to Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush's `Don't Give Up', and along with its weary yet supportive lyric, it also delivers a big bold emotionally charged finale that soars to the heavens with great poise and overall class.

The lyrically pessimistic `The Same Asylum As Before' is powered by punchy drumming and swampy grinding guitars burning around Steven's crooning falsetto, and there's a lovely laid-back interlude in the middle with lightly jazzy flavours to Steven's guitar bursts and some sparkling electric piano. Sure to be a favourite of many of his existing fans, `Refuge' is bookended with a low-key unhurried melancholic introspection and that sad beauty that Wilson has perfected to a fine art over the years, and some carefully executed dramatic lifts give the piece a weight and great tension. After wallowing in brooding contemplation, the `controversial' first single `Permanating' then proves a welcome respite, a buoyant and proudly peppy piano n' falsetto-powered pop burst that not only reveals Wilson's keen honing of strong melodic sensibilities, but is unashamedly comparable in parts to Electric Light Orchestra! Lighten up, people, and just enjoy a cool and (whisper it!) fun pop tune. `Blank Tapes' is then a fragile little ballad interlude of a pristine aching beauty and precious warmth.

Lyrically threatening and instrumentally brash (just listen to Steven's bouncing thick bass pounding away in parts, you'd swear it was Nick Beggs on this one - perhaps it was and there was a misprint in the CD booklet?!), `People Who Eat Darkness' is a relentlessly sleek indie-rocker that is bound to become a live favourite on the tour supporting this album. `Song Of I' is a darkly cool fusion of New Wave and eerie electronica that has Ninet and Steven swapping confessional lyrics over gloomy piano and maddening breathless orchestration.

The longest piece at just over nine minutes is `Detonation', and among its clipping electronic programming, delicate chiming guitars and Steven's purring words that are laced with spite and hostility, the instrumental second half slinks in and out of aggressive blasts, fiery near jazz-fusion-like runs and dreamy shimmering caresses - see, still much here for the snootiest of prog fans! Closer `Song Of Unborn' is a tender piano ballad with exquisite ethereal choir work that replaces gentle regret with reassuring optimism for its smart chorus, and it might not only be one of the most stirring finales to appear on a Wilson/Porcupine Tree disc, but one of his loveliest songs overall.

After all of that, there's little things that do let down `To the Bone' in a few surprising ways. While there's not a truly bad song to be found on the disc, much of what is included can perhaps be considered `reliable', with little that could be placed among Wilson's very best work, even if there's a few occasionally genuinely thrilling moments here and there. It's also a far cry from being the new direction or unexplored area of his sound that was hinted at in the press release, as it still sounds very much like a typical Wilson product, mood and lyrical theme wise. Honestly, the thought of Wilson writing a REAL pop album is more intriguing and daring than many parts of what was included here!

But `To the Bone' is still consistently enjoyable all the way through and can be especially appreciated as a less demanding background listen full of cool tunes and great playing that rarely gives in to instrumental self-indulgence. While it's not one of his best works, it achieves the enviable balance of being able to be enjoyed by existing fans of both his solo work and previous band, as well as being inviting to newcomers and non-prog rock fans (call them `muggles' if you like, prog snobs!), and it still showcases Wilson as an intelligent artist well deserving of his status in both the general music industry overall and as a modern progressive music icon of note.

Three and a half stars for just a great rock album.

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars I've often heard Wilson say in interviews that he feels with each album he releases that he loses fans, but gains new ones. Technically, this can't be correct, becuase his popularity has been steadily increasing for the past decade; however, the point is that his sound changes incrementally, alienating some but catching the ear of others.

You probably read that thinking that I'm going to talk about how To the Bone is a significant departure that will cause Wilson's prog base to abandon him--a departure which we'll look back to as the start of Wilson's commercial break-out. This is definitely not the case. To the Bone is not a pop album ... not even sort of kind of a pop album. But, it's not a prog album, at least not in the way that his early solo works were. To the Bone is exceptionally well inspired and very artistic rock music which I think will do the impossible: please prog fans AND attract new fans among people who don't obsess over the groups tucked away here on the archives.

Case in point ...

The other day I played the album while my fiancee (definitely not a prog fan), and I were lounging in the living room, each engaged in a different activity. The next day, she asked me to share To the Bone with her so she could listen to it again at work. Boom. Thank you Steven Wilson; you've done the impossible and not only pleased me (a prog snob whose 20's were pretty much defined by your music) and my soon to be wife (who thinks bands like Yes are just noise). Bravo.

Is To the Bone a masterwork? I don't think so--but its very close. But more importantly, it's approachable hooks, highly polished and emotive instrumental work, interesting and creative songwriting, and quietly optimistic lyrics make it a perfect entry point to the world of progressive (or at least artistic) music. Essential for Wilson fans, and highly recommended for everyone else.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Review by Zitro
4 stars Steven Wilson Trying to Be a Pop Star and Failing but Making Good Music anyways

Steven Wilson is changing his artistic approach to music and re-thinking his role as a solo artist. More specifically, he wants the audience standing and dancing, he wants to reach mainstream success, and he wants to steer away from the progressive rock label. The album is fairly successful in a musical sense, but indicates a troubling change of direction for the artist, especially if you pay attention to his wants in interviews and speeches on stage. I fear his choices for his favorite tunes in the album, as they are among his most derivative songs of his solo career. The production of the album is also troubling, as if Steven Wilson wanted to make a tribute out of the 80s and eliminating complex percussion and some modern recording techniques. As far as reaching wide success, this album is a colossal failure and not surprisingly, given his sheer musical output experience and age, the general audience would not get drawn in by song knock offs from Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, ELO, or ABBA (some of the singles)

Before the overhyped album was released, there was a surprising number of tracks released to draw enthusiasm, and they were less impressive than what Wilson generally is capable of. 'Pariah' is very pretty but suffers from unimaginative lyrics, a grating volume imbalance in its ending, and sounds derivative from Peter Gabriel's 'Don't Give Up' structurally and sonically. 'The Same Asylum' sounds like a second rate Porcupine Tree tune trying to be catchy but does feature more involved instrumentation. 'Permanating' is legitimately catchy, though the influences are quite obvious and is awkwardly placed after single 'Refuge', which is somber, grander in scope, but borrows heavily from Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel. 'Nowhere Now' has a more ambitious music video and is a pretty good pop song and overall one of the better singles here. The one single that really stood out for me is the electronic 'Song of I' - structurally progressive rock with a steady beat but always shifting music with no clear structutal pattern yet blended in with clearly mainstream modern features. It is experimental, creative, and very memorable.

Outside the singles, the remaining songs fare pretty well. 'To The Bone' is more of an earworm than any of the singles except maybe Permanating. 'People Who Eat Darkness' has an angry punk sound and carries the most energetic rhythms of the album. 'Detonation' has a sinister mood, syncopated synthesized bass, and a bizarre transition to an extended macabre dance song that takes a lot of listens to accept and enjoy - it really came to life when played live. 'Song of Unborn' is the other clear standout of the album with sparse, but progressively more symphonic music, some of his best lyrics of his career, with a massive but pleasant wall of sound in finale.

The music is overall successful and does show a different kind of musical maturity, mainly in restrained and melody writing. However, it is a troubling new direction that I feel is not sustainable as this approach can quickly get stale. Nervously anticipating what a new album would sound like, hopefully another new direction but involving a more flexible genre than pop. I also want to sit on stage - his music is not meant for standing!

Latest members reviews

4 stars I admit that when I first listened to some of the tracks from this album, I was sceptical due to how its more mainstream sound greatly contrasted with his two previous jazz influenced albums, 'Hand.Cannot.Erase' and 'The Raven That Refused to Sing'. However, I now come to regard this album highl ... (read more)

Report this review (#2189039) | Posted by DominicS | Sunday, April 28, 2019 | Review Permanlink

2 stars 2.4 Stars. Nothing new under the sun I think the saying "all good things must come to an end" is the perfect summery to how I feel about Steven Wilson's new album To The Bone (TTB). After a hat trick of masterful albums Wilson seems to running dry on new ideas for this album. While there are a f ... (read more)

Report this review (#1903015) | Posted by LakeGlade12 | Tuesday, March 13, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I get why this album isn't as rated as highly as Steven Wilson's other records. It's not as overly proggy, the arrangements are more simple, and the playing is more like Porcupine Tree in the later 90s (impressive as heck, but not jaw-dropping), And that is okay, because the songs are still there. ... (read more)

Report this review (#1815069) | Posted by Biff Tannen | Saturday, October 21, 2017 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Review # 66. Before anything else, I think I should write that I consider myself as a 'fan' of Porcupine Tree, but not Steven Wilson as a solo artist. I have all the albums he released either with Porcupine Tree or Blackfield and his solo releases as well. When I heard the first rumors about h ... (read more)

Report this review (#1781939) | Posted by The Jester | Thursday, September 14, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Selected thoughts about selected songs To the Bone: Interesting sounds sometimes, engaging enough and well-produced, has its moments but a bit repetitive; microcosm of this album in some ways. Permanating: fun to listen to and surprisingly hasn't gotten old yet. Hope though this is a one-off e ... (read more)

Report this review (#1781376) | Posted by muggle68 | Tuesday, September 12, 2017 | Review Permanlink

1 stars ...and here's the next stage of personal evolution of Steven Wilson as a solo artist. From a boldly experimenting musician of widest creative range and full creative freedom - to a prudent, almost pre-programmed artist who knows very well what his audience expects from him, and does nothing but ... (read more)

Report this review (#1780598) | Posted by proghaven | Saturday, September 9, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Much to my surprise, Steven Wilson pre-released five of the eleven songs from his latest album To The Bone. This appears to have been part of the marketing campaign which seeks to maximise discussion and exposure prior to release. Personally I am not convinced that this has been effective but ti ... (read more)

Report this review (#1772574) | Posted by CeeJayGee | Friday, August 18, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Less can be more when given the right frame of mind. Popular melodies are not to be given disrespect, and simple phrases are sometimes the longest lasting mind catching linear feelings. This is Steven's latest attempt to be more commercial and gain a larger following, based on his innovative a ... (read more)

Report this review (#1772268) | Posted by MaxnEmmy | Thursday, August 17, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wilson has done it again. And the album is just what he said it would be: a celebration of the great art pop albums of the eighties and nineties. Let's do a song by song analysis. - To the Bone - It starts off with a female voice, American accent, about the fact that everybody has his or her own ... (read more)

Report this review (#1765674) | Posted by LakesideRitchie | Sunday, July 23, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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