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Solstice Sia album cover
3.86 | 38 ratings | 4 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2020

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Shout (12:45)
2. Love Is Coming (6:28)
3. Long Gone (4:09)
4. Stand Up (6:13)
5. Seven Dreams (7:46)
6. A New Day (6:53)
7. Cheyenne 2020 (6:46)

Total Time 51:00

Line-up / Musicians

- Andy Glass / guitar, vocals
- Jenny Newman / violin
- Pete Hemsley / drums
- Jess Holland / vocals
- Robin Phillips / bass
- Steven McDaniel / keyboards, vocals

Releases information

Cover: Painting by Shaun Blake, Logo Painting by Barry Kitson
Label: GEP (GEPCD1066)
Format: Vinyl, CD, Digital
November 23, 2020

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy SOLSTICE Sia Music

SOLSTICE Sia ratings distribution

(38 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

SOLSTICE Sia reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by kev rowland
4 stars Surely here is a band who need no introduction whatsoever, as when it came to prog in the Eighties these were one of THE bands. I was really late to the party, not hearing 1984's 'Silent Dance' until it was reissued by Progressive Records in 1991, and immediately fell in love with both that and the next album, 'New Life'. Solstice built up a huge following in the live scene in the UK, but they never really had the stability and release schedule for them to establish themselves on a wider basis, and I am sure there are many of us who wish the breaks had gone their way as they always deserved to be much bigger. Their last album prior to this one was 2013's 'Prophecy', and apart from new singer Jess Holland, this features the same line-up of Andy Glass (guitar, vocals), Jenny Newman (violin), Pete Hemsley (drums), Robin Phillips (bass) and Steven McDaniel (keyboards, vocals). Solstice have always been a band who have used female lead vocals and violin, something which has always made them stand out from others in the scene, and on this album, they have moved at times into a folkier side.

Songs such as "Long Gone" are simply beautiful, with the concentration on Jess's beautiful vocals and Andy's acoustic guitar, with some delicate accordion-style keyboards. When Jenny's violin comes in over the top of the harmonies, it adds a touch of beauty which takes this to a whole new level. The album starts with one of its most overtly progressive tracks in "Shout", where the layered keyboards and violin fool us as we jump into something which is quite funky in some respects, allowing a groove to build right from the beginning. This has always been Andy's band, but he acts more as an arranger than a diva, only bringing himself forward when it is right for the music, yet he can more often be found in the background. This is the longest song on the album, at more than 10 minutes, yet it passes by incredibly quickly as the listener is drawn into some wonderfully melodic music.

Jess's vocals are pure and clear, Jenny has the wonderfully folky style one expects from someone who has developed her style in that sphere, adapting it to prog but never moving too far away from the roots, then Andy adds in his pieces when the time is right and together the trio provide the melody, with keyboards often in a support role, as are the rhythm section. However, one needs to pay close attention to Pete, Robert, and Steven, as they are often laying down complex lines and rhythms which the listener may not always pick up on.

The whole album is a delight, and it is something of a surprise to find they have revisited a track from their debut all those years ago. Back then Andy was accompanied by Sandy Leigh, Marc Elton, Mark Hawkins and Martin Wright, and while I must admit I am not always a fan of bands going back to music they had previously released, this has been given a totally fresh lease of life some 36 years on from when it was originally recorded. It fits in perfectly with the rest of the album and brought a smile to the face of old proggers like me. I see Solstice are touring heavily in the UK, and as I don't think they will ever make it down to Aotearoa, let's hope we get another album from them soon.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Solstice have never been inclined to hurry when it comes to putting out studio albums, emitting them in little fits and starts here and there rather than keeping up a steady, consistent pace. Having taken a seven year break from studio albums after Prophecy, in 2020 they returned with Sia, their first release on Giant Electric Pea.

It's perhaps appropriate that Solstice should have found a home there, given that the label was founded by their old Marquee-era mates in IQ, and with a followup (Light Up) following some three years later and not one but two live albums also emerging since they joined the GEP fold, there's some reason to hope that this is kicking off a late-career rebirth for Andy Glass's neo-prog unit.

Certainly, things are freshened up a bit here with a new lead vocalist in the form of Jess Holland, replacing the capable Emma Brown who'd been singing lead since the Circles album. Holland doesn't represent a radical departure from the approach Emma took, any more than Emma was all that radically different from Sandy Leigh - Solstice lead vocalists have always had performances which sat at the borderline between laid-back singing and New Agey chanting, with a lot of influence from Jon Anderson of Yes. That's just kind of what the songs are composed to support, and Holland takes to it quite adeptly. (If you really want to compare and contrast, Cheyenne 2020 is a bonus track of this line-up tackling a number originally sung by Sandy Leigh.)

Holland replacing Brown is the only line-up change - the instrumentalists are the same team who brought us Spirit and Prophecy. This is perhaps beneficial; in earlier phases Solstice had a bit of a churn of personnel (Andy Glass is the only person still with the band who played on their debut album, after all), but now that the instrumentalists have been working together for over a decade they've really had a chance to gel.

The material here sits in that special realm which Solstice have made their own - relaxing, laid-back, peaceful music which nonetheless has enough structural complexity and instrumental flair to give progheads something to chew on. That sort of combination of New Age calm and prog intricacy is hard to pull off; Yes touched on it in a few of their quieter moments, as did Mike Oldfield, but I think the only group I can think of who really managed to strike this sort of balance was Jade Warrior.

That isn't to say things are always soporific - appropriately enough given their titles, Shout and Stand Up both have their more rambunctious moments. Nonetheless, the emphasis here is very much on continuing and evolving the New Age/neo-prog mashup that Solstice are so good at, with an infusion of folk here and there to help the two sides blend. Jenny Newman's violin is key to this, whilst Andy Glass's delicate touch on acoustic guitar is of course also a key ingredient.

On the whole, this didn't blow me away like Prophecy did, but I do think it's a solid new chapter in Solstice's gradually continuing story.

Latest members reviews

3 stars It's with a heavy heart that I write this review. Solstice is one of my favorite part time prog collectives and some of their past albums are stellar. Particularly the environmentally apocalyptic masterpiece that came out in 2013 titled Prophesy. That album sported doomsday lyrics fitted to some ... (read more)

Report this review (#2856770) | Posted by SteveG | Wednesday, December 7, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Sixth album from Solstice (Sia is Gaelic for six) with their brand new vocalist Jess Holland, who brings his pleasant, folk-tinged tone aboard. The general sound of the band is, however, more complex and textured than that, setting a prog & fusion sonic scenary where the guitars generally take the l ... (read more)

Report this review (#2490656) | Posted by Heart of the Matter | Tuesday, January 5, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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