“A Feast For The Ears” - John Hackett’s new album, Prelude To Summer reviewed by Alan Hewitt.

An album of acoustic music from either of the Hackett brothers is always a cause for celebration here in TWR HQ. Even more so when the album in question features both of them! John’s flute work is well renowned and respected and this new offering gives a further demonstration of why that is the case. What has only recently begun to shine, however, is his talent on the guitar and this album is a wonderful showcase for both instruments.

Prelude To Summer is an exquisitely crafted album - a delight to the ears from start to finish. The title track opens the album and does exactly what it says on the tin; this is a vibrant aural description of the last vestiges of spring as they are succeeded by summer. Birds in the trees, flowers in bloom all alive in the brilliant colours summoned up by both John’s flute and Chris Glassfield’s guitar - a superb start!

Nippy Tune, is another exact description. A delightfully happy tune; reminiscent to me of childhood games and the innocence of those times.

Duende, a Spanish word, the meaning of which eludes me, is a fine example of a modern piece rooted in the Classical style of the court of 18th century Spain. Duetting here with his brother, Steve, John’s influences are plain to see. In fact, this one definitely bears comparisons with some of the work by another member of Genesis: Anthony Phillips, the playing is simply wonderful.

Le Chat Noir (The Black Cat) is an evocative and playfully descriptive piece full of mischief and charm, with echoes of some of the Satie pieces which were a major influence on both the brothers Hackett!

Lonely Man, once again has echoes of Satie written all over it. A melancholy reverie understated but beautifully crafted.

Six- Eight For Starters! Whatever the title means I don’t really care, this is a marvellous piece. A slice of summer neatly wrapped up and performed here with gusto and verve.

Love Lies Sleeping once again evokes a delightfully romantic image that needs no explanation, the playing here is of an almost crystalline purity and is a joy to listen to.

Closure, you would think should have been the album’s final track, and yet here it is in the middle of it. Nothing wrong with that! John is joined by Steve again in another wonderful and unabashedly romantic offering with the odd echo of some of the pair’s previous works underpinning it.

Where Flowers Bloom Unseen, has an almost Elizabethan feel to it. I imagine the royal children of Henry VIII playing in the walled gardens of Hampton Court Palace here accompanied by their minstrels enjoying the glories of an English summer’s day.

Tomorrow, or should it be called “manana” ? Once again the Spanish influence is evident here as both John and Steve enjoy a romp through the streets of Madrid or Barcelona perhaps? Another irrepressibly cheerful offering which never fails to make me smile.

Voices Of The Sea, changes the atmosphere. An altogether more serene and sedate performance from both John and Steve. Almost austere in its clarity, this is music worthy of the concert hall by any standard!

Twilight Forest once again, has echoes of Ant’s work for me ( and that is obviously meant as a compliment) another wonderfully descriptive piece, full of light and shade, just like its subject!

Ice Cream Waltz - well, do I need to explain this one? Surely not! A simply joyful tune which would have me dancing round the room if I weren’t writing this review!

Flight To Seville and Gaudi’s Dream both exude the influence of Spain again. The former is a delightfully airy (pardon the pun) piece while the latter vividly describes the echoey majesty of Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece: The Sagrada Familia.

Home is another unashamedly romantic track evoking all the feelings of a return home after a spell in foreign parts - a feeling which I am sure John knows all too well!

Velvet Dusk, follows on from Velvet Afternoon the title of John’s last acoustic album and is delightfully descriptive, happily melancholy and redolent of Mr Satie!

The album closes with June, a marvellous portrait of John and Steve’s mother June I suspect. A loving gift from a child to its parent, this is a marvellous finale to the album.

So there you have it, eighteen magical tracks from the pen of John Hackett. This album is a classic in the REAL sense of the word! An album of evocative, eloquent and beautiful music, austere in places yet shining with understated humour and the simple joy of playing in which it is obvious that both of his collaborators have enjoyed themselves as much as the man himself. An album to lose yourself in and one which you will come back to time and time again - bravo, maestro!

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