To Watch the Storms

Steve Hackett

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To Watch the Storms Review

by Fran├žois Couture

Steve Hackett's solo rock albums have grown few and far between from the '90s onward. So the release of To Watch the Storms was surrounded by a lot of expectations from fans and they shouldn't be disappointed. This is a wonderful record, full of touching, intelligent songs, stellar guitar playing, and great production. It continues in the same direction Hackett has been pursuing since Guitar Noir, a blend of mature songwriting, thoughtful arrangements, and odd rock numbers with progressive rock elements. Nothing needs to be taken out of this album. "Circus of Becoming" adds another example of Hackett's infatuation with quirky circus-sounding tunes, but this one is much better than "The Ballad of the Decomposing Man" (from Spectral Mornings). In fact, it provides one of the strongest highlights of the set, thanks to its raucous side. "The Devil Is an Englishman" picks up where "Vampyre with a Healthy Appetite" (from Guitar Noir) had left off, and doing the idea of an evil song better. "Mechanical Bride" lingers on for too long (its chorus is not catchy enough to justify repeating it so much), but that's an exception. "Brand New" features keyboardist Roger King singing in a vocoder and Ian McDonald making a guest appearance on sax. "The Silk Road" is an interesting take on world fusion dominated by ethnic percussion and Hackett's furious runs on acoustic guitar. The album also includes the obligatory (and charming) classical guitar piece in "The Moon Under Water." "Serpentine Song" closes the album with one of those dreamy pop songs Hackett has a knack for. Some will find it a bit easy or trite, but others will be left uplifted and smiling. Some days, that's all you can ask for.

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