Steve Hackett - At the Edge of Light
Steve Hackett is probably best known as the guitarist in Genesis. He was a member of the band from 1970 to 1977 and played on six of their studio albums. This is just over a third of their albums and includes such classics as Foxtrot, Selling England by the Pound and Wind & Wuthering (his last album with the band). After he left Genesis, he has had a very prolific solo career, and this is his twenty-fifth album. He is assisted by Roger King who plays keyboards, programming and orchestral arrangements on most of the songs, his brother John who plays flute on four songs, and by a cast of special guests who sing and play instruments (too many to list here).
"Fallen Walls and Pedestals" is a short Persian inspired instrumental. There are short stabs of orchestral strings and a Persian instrumental called a tar, but the guitar is the main instrument.
"Beasts in Our Time" is the first song to feature vocals. It has some delicate picked acoustic guitar. There is also a wonderful saxophone solo. The song gets a bit heavier in the last couple of minutes with some innovative rolling riffage.
Seven-minute song "Under the Eye of the Sun" is heavily influenced by Yes around the time of the Drama album. It has vocals sung in unison but listen out for the bass clarinet and didgeridoo during the instrumental break, the sound completely changes. It is probably my favourite song on the album and is widely believed to be a tribute to Chris Squire.
"Underground Railroad" has beautiful gospel vocals sung by the McBroom sisters (they have worked with Pink Floyd and Dave Kerzner among others). It has a lovely Americana and country vibe. You can almost hear the trains taking the escaping slaves to freedom. Another highlight of the album.
"Those Golden Wings" is the longest song on the album. It is one of the most western sounding songs on the album, along with "Under the Eye of the Sun" but it has some wonderful guitar playing and a very symphonic rock sound.
"Shadow and Flame" has an Indian influence and features sitar and tabla. There is also some reverb heavy drumming too. My wife is Indian, and this is her favourite song on the album and one of my favourite songs as well.
"Hungry Years" may not be the best song on the album, but it is a very joyful song, creates a nice contrast to what follows and has one of the best guitar solos on the album.
"Descent" sounds like a darker and moody cousin to Ravel’s Bolero. It is instrumental with snare drum playing a variation on the famous rhythm with some orchestral sounds and a little bit of distorted guitar added into the mix.
"Conflict" is another short instrumental influenced by symphonic rock and classical music. It is a nice little interlude to connect to the final song.
"Peace" opens with some beautiful piano playing that carries on throughout the whole song. It also has some twelve-string acoustic guitar as well as the orchestral sounds and choir sounds that feature throughout the album. It is an uplifting song and a superb way to finish the album. One of the highlights with one of the finest guitar solos.
I have heard only a few of his solo albums but this is certainly one of the best. It has all the trademark Hackett guitar sounds but this is mixed with a lot of classical and world music influences as well as from bands such as The Beatles, ELP, Genesis, Pink Floyd and Yes. The album can be quite dark in places but also very joyful and uplifting as well and there is a lot of variation in the music. At times, some of the lyrics and music can sound a little bit cheesy on the first listen, but the album is an acquired taste and you will be greatly rewarded.