Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Elegant Simplicity - The Ghost Of A Smile CD (album) cover

THE GHOST OF A SMILE

Elegant Simplicity

 

Neo-Prog

3.96 | 4 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars According to the mighty tome which is 'The Progressive Underground: Volume 1', I first reviewed Stephen McCabe in Feb 1996, so that means that next year we will celebrate a quarter of a century of knowing each other! I reviewed 12 of his albums during the following 10 years, plus all four he has released since then, and now it is onto his latest. Over that time Stephen has worked solo, with or without a singer or drummer, and in more recent times he has moved more into turning Elegant Simplicity into a full band. That is the case this time around as well, as this is definitely the logical follow-up to 2017's 'Kicking The Olive Branch'. There has been some musician changes, but both William Stewart (violin) and Maurizio Antonini (drums) are still here from that album, and they have now been joined by Bárbara Bolívar (flute), Jim Wells (trumpet) and Hector Ruano (bass) along with Jody Smith who provides narration in some places. Stephen is a full multi-instrumentalist, happy to provide both guitar and keyboards, and here is working with others to create an album which is very much Seventies in style with influences obviously from the likes of Camel and Oldfield.

The use of real brass and violin definitely adds to the overall feel of the album, and there is a very strong relationship between Stephen's keyboard playing and bassist Ruano in particular. Stephen has a reputation for delivering lengthy songs, and indeed has released albums which are pretty much just one track, but here it is a collection of shorter pieces, with just one breaking the ten-minute barrier. Again, this is an instrumental release, but there are a few voiceovers, including some snippets of Orson Welles on "Connected", which is surely one of Stephen's shortest ever songs at less than two minutes! When I reviewed his last album I complained as it was only 52 minutes long, and this one is even shorter (would still be more than one side of a TDK-90 tape, which is where all my albums lived in the 70's, and all those classic albums tended to fit easily on one side, how quickly we all forget). I would liked to have heard more, as this is an album which does take a while to get into, more so than many of his works, and consequently if I am listening to it just once then it is always later in the album when I really start to enjoy it. If I play it on repeat then I get far more from the earlier songs than previously, so surely a little longer wouldn't have hurt!

Mind you, I think this is Stephen's 26th full-length release so I shouldn't complain ? if only some other bands had half or even a quarter of that output, I would be incredibly happy. There really is no excuse for not knowing or discovering his music, he consistently has one of the best artist sites around, all his music is available on Bandcamp as well as physically, and Stephen is currently working through and remastering all his earlier albums as well. He has been releasing music for more than 30 years, all of an incredibly high standard indeed, and his latest is yet another welcome addition to the canon.

kev rowland | 4/5 |

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this ELEGANT SIMPLICITY review

Social review comments () BETA







Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives