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Steve Thorne - Part Two - Emotional Creatures CD (album) cover


Steve Thorne


Crossover Prog

3.54 | 54 ratings

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4 stars Part 2 of the Emotional Creatures saga.

I really enjoyed, somewhat unexpectedly, the debut "Emotional Creatures Part 1" and it remains firmly entrenched in my playlists. As some have already mentioned, Steve Thorne is a truthful projection of artistry in its most precious and pure form, a delightful tunesmith that chisels rough cuts that are adroitly adorned and polished with proggy shine from a shimmering cast of guest musicians from IQ (Orford), Jadis (Jowitt, Chandler, Christey) , Yes (Downes), Spock's Beard (Meros, D'Virgilio), King Crimson (Levin), Porcupine Tree's Gavin Harrison, Pete Trewavas from Marillion , Arena's John Mitchell and many more?. These are all heartfelt songs that have meaning and substance, dealing with ills of modern society and enveloped in a highly original delivery, quite reminiscent of similar multi- instrumentalist/songwriters like Canada's Ken Baird, Bert Heinen (Like Wendy) from Holland or England's Guy Manning. This is not the rampaging Anekdoten onslaught, the exuberant Flower Kings epic romps or even the moody PTree daze, though these gentle tracks will recall Wilson's more ballad oriented material (without all the gloomy apathy and the IV drip haze). The structure of the songs are pretty classic, an acoustic guitar spine that highlights the lyrical material and the emotions within the vocal delivery, perhaps not proggy enough for some but totally endearing even within the first spins, as the musical honesty is so appealing in this formulaic, over branded MP3 world of ours. This one is a denser progression from Part1 with velvet slivers of misty mood that enthralls like some sonic narcotic and seduces the jaded listener into immediate attention. From the opening instrumental waltz, cleverly titled "Toxicana Apocalypso"(another- this time wordless- anti- hard drug rant), the improvement becomes immediately evident, swirling melodies deftly played by the guests with utter bravado. Tony Levin's bass looping madly, intense drumming from D'Virgilio and same raging Downes organ blasts define this lofty opener, a whirlwind of delight to follow. On the splendidly vaporous "Wayward", the illustrious Gavin Harrison pummels along with Tony (what a glorious tandem!) in a silky groove that may recall prime Roxy Music, giving Thorne the platform to shine vocally, gentle one moment and raspy the next. An amazing track that exudes class, this is a superb ride. The anthemic "Crossfire" retains a discreet sense of elegance with Geoff Downes piano providing the main setting, a turbulent tirade about fallen soldiers and wasted youth caught in the crossfire. Thorne's voice soars majestically, expressing with troubled despair the plight of a once great empire. John Mitchell blitzes mightily on lead guitar, a quixotic solo that defies description. On the perplexing "Roundabout" (not the Yes song, bubba!), the synthesized effects become intoxicating, a freefall into the swirling miasma of life where Thorne emotes courageously in a style reminiscent of Fish or even his Marillion replacement Steve Hoggarth. Very spacey and spirited. The rather nasty "Hounded" is a colossal slab of progressive folk, actually closer to Porcupine Tree, Thorne's pipes rasping ragingly at the pain of misguided love while the Spocks Beard rhythm section pounds away in revolted anger. Jadis' Gary Chandler provides a mathematic guitar solo that bridges the gap in spectacular fashion, all tone and texture, as the Rickenbacker bellows beneath. The howling choir effects are beguiling. "All the Wisemen" is another little lyrical jewel, a sardonic stab at our alleged leaders (who seem to wind up causing more damage than good), in a simple veneer enflamed by a Mitchell solo that pains convincingly as Levin's bass rumbles proudly along. Thorne shows his vocal talents here in unabashed fashion. We have a new wizard, a true star! A quirky change of pace is next , "Great Ordeal" being a mandolin-led folk ditty that is as English as one can hope for, dirt simple and unpretentious. Both "6am Your Time" and "Solace" are short instrumentals that quantify the musical qualities of the artist , a pot- pourri of sound that does not serve as filler but rather as a mood setting for the final turn, first the staggering "The White Dove Song", perhaps Steve's masterstroke up to now. A sassy/brassy piece which sounds right out of the Sgt Pepper/Magical Mystery time zone, with a smiling Peter Trewavas bass leading the charge, lush orchestrations galore (viola, violin, cello, trumpet, French horns and bass trombone) , providing the stage for a monstrous Thorne delivery (a huge chorus and devilish verse) and another organ romp from the Asia guy. Absolutely ballsy move on the arrangement and it's pulled off oh so successfully! The finale is another stunner, "Sandheads", the longest track here clocking in over 7 minutes that ultimately encompasses the genius of this "to watch closely" artist. This is where the two album theme of the 'emotional creatures' concept is explained within the lyrics and providing closure and explanation. This being a closing chapter, Thorne will be moving into different realms on the next album. Another fully orchestrated tirade on the human condition, the lyrics focus on the contradiction in the all aspects of societal life, showcasing clearly why we can be fallible yet lovely at times, a complex animal that seemingly inspires both love and hate. A thoroughly enjoyable musical adventure. The artwok is similar to part one, the production first rate all around . I look forward to future "thorny" albums from this talented gent, this man needs to be discovered by you all now! 4.5 tender mortals

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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