Steve Hackett

Darktown

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Over the course of 25 years and nearly 20 solo releases, Steve Hackett has acquired a vast amount of technical proficiency in the studio. This album, which Hackett produced, is the best-sounding release of his career. Most of the 11 tracks are more like soundscapes or aural impressions, than songs in the conventional sense; this is not necessarily a bad thing. The tapestry of sounds on "The Golden Age of Steam" is perfectly suited to a rather intriguing lyric about a World War II child spy. On "Rise Again" the hopeful lyrics are coupled with guitar playing that truly soars. Most of the other songs, however, are simply not engaging enough to be memorable, even after repeated listenings. In the liner notes, Hackett points out that "Twice Around the Sun" may have the longest sustained guitar note in the history of modern recording, and this points to the album's biggest problem: Hackett seems more concerned with form than substance, which will eventually prove tiring to even the most dedicated fans.

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