Huw Lloyd-Langton

Chain Reaction

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Guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton continues to blossom as a solo artist (when not making the rounds with his first major band, '60s psychedelic godfathers Hawkwind). This album sounds more polished than previous outings -- like 1985's Night Air, which sounds rootsier by comparison -- but that's hardly a drawback when the songs are so consistently strong. The group's stripped-down, heavy rock-oriented approach has given way to a bluesier attack, such as on "Jealousy," where Langton admits to battening down some uncontrollable passions. "Chain Reaction" takes self-destructive societal trends to task, while "Cardboard City" reflects Langton's long-standing concern about homelessness ("Where do they hide when it's cold outside?"). No one-trick pony, Langton also finds time to dip into reggae ("Sleep Easy"), glistening guitar pyrotechnics ("Dedication," "Talk to You (Part 2)"), a lovely, swaying, Celtic-sounding folk-rocker ("Tell Me"), and smoldering ballads ("Free"). They're all performed with the fluid invention that typifies his best guitar playing. Similarly, the lengthy, loping instrumental explorations of "5 to 4" and "Sharkey's Blues" nod to quintessential British guitar slinger Hank Marvin, while "Who Went Before" closes the album with a classical-styled acoustic flourish. It's a typically bold move from one of Langton's most self-assured albums, inside or out of Hawkwind.

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