For prolific British progressive rocker Steven Wilson, the two-CD set Grace for Drowning is his second official solo album, following 2008's Insurgentes. Recording under his own name, Wilson tends to fall somewhere between his popular Porcupine Tree group project and his ambient recordings as Bass Communion. Grace for Drowning's two discs are divided into one called Deform to Form a Star and another called Like Dust I Have Cleared from My Eye, both named after tracks on them. In the relatively sparse lyrics that Wilson sings with a calm, British-accented tenor, he seems melancholy at first, apparently suffering from the aftermath of a romantic breakup. "There's nothing left for me to say or do," he declares in "Postcard." By the second disc, he has become angrier about the situation, but the closing title track finds him reaching resolution and moving on. The words are spread out over music that builds and ebbs in a manner that allows for different styles and soloing by Wilson and a few musical guests. He is not abashed about evoking his prog predecessors. The obvious antecedent is Pink Floyd, particularly recalled in the space rock of "No Part of Me." The 23-minute "Raider II," coming toward the end, allows room for a flute-and-piano section that could have been excerpted from a Traffic album as well as guitar-bass-drum sections in rapid 6/4 time suggestive of Yes. By the end, Wilson has subsided into an ambient coda on "Like Dust I Have Cleared from My Eye," as if readying himself for the next Bass Communion album. Grace for Drowning has a particular conception in terms of its emotional journey from sadness through anger to acceptance, but it is also just another in a lengthy discography of albums by Wilson under various names in relatively similar styles.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2