Wolflight - album reviewed by Jill Walker.
Listening to Wolflight has to be one of the descriptive musical journeys I have ever been on. A kaleidoscope of sounds creating wonderful visions of travels though the wilderness, ancient lands, the deep South, desert, sea and home. It is impossible to listen to it without filling your mind with the pictures it creates. Each piece a mini film score in its own right. An impressive line up of musicians playing an eclectic range of instruments ensures that this is one special album.
Out Of The Body heralds the start of the journey with the plaintive cry of a wolf. A short instrumental with the pounding toms of Gary O’Toole and Steve’s explosive guitar setting the pace of the chase. The orchestration of this track gives a vast panoramic feel throughout.
The title track follows. Wolflight, a magical piece written by Steve and Jo Hackett. They say a picture paints a thousand words - well, the words and music of this track paint a thousand pictures! Wolflight is the hour before dawn, when wolves are on the run, hunting and chasing through the wilderness. The music is so expressive and exciting, heightened by the inclusion of instruments such as the didgeridoo (Sara Kovacs) , the Tar (Malik Mansurov), an ancient Persian instrument similar to a long necked lute, and violin and viola (Christine Townsend) creating a fusion of sounds. A driving guitar riff and great vocals from Amanda Lehmann and Steve make this a stand out track
Love Song To A Vampire, as the title suggests, is a tale from the dark side. Soaring vocals from Amanda and Steve , heavy bass from Chris Squire and Steve rocking out on guitar, make this an exciting and thrilling track. A definite for inclusion in th forthcoming live shows.
Steve’s memories of his childhood influence the next track. The Wheel’s Turning conjures up sights and sounds of an English fairground in such detail. A ride on the Big Dipper, the Ghost Train accurately portrayed here in typical Hackett Band fashion. A familiar sounding track, reminiscent of The Golden Age Of Steam at the beginning. The most upbeat track on the album, full of energy and drive.
A complete contrast next with Corycian Fire. A dark, mystical exploration of the caverns of Delphi in Greece. With Steve playing the Oud, an Arabic instrument, and Rob Townsend on Duduk, a double reed wooden flute, the haunting music has a menacing feel and grows to a crescendo with a choir singing in Greek bringing the whole piece to an amazing climax.
Emerging from the cavern into the light, we are next treated to a Steve Hackett acoustic piece: Earthshine. Just beautiful, the master at work with his instantly recognisable trademark sound. This is a wonderful piece of music.
Keeping in a lighter mood, the next track Loving sea is full of gorgeous harmony vocals and jangling guitar. On first listen I was reminded of Crosby, Stills & Nash! Something really different here. I close my eyes and I’m drifting along the gently lapping water, watching wildlife in the lagoon. It’s all here, soothing the soul.
Another shift of mood and tempo next with Black Thunder, probably the heaviest track on this album, making it a sure fire contender for the one I want to hear live! With my favourite rhythm section of Nick Beggs and Gary O’Toole at the steering wheel, complemented by the harmonic and banjo, a powerful piece depicting the struggle for freedom in the South of the USA.
Nearing the end of this amazing album is a glorious instrumental: Dust & Dreams. The slow, swaying rhythm portraying a long camel trek across the hot desert - mesmerising! A change of pace midway reflects the hardships of such a journey. One of my favourite tracks on the album, with soaring guitar and the Oud providing atmosphere. It is wistful and exotic and a real joy.
Seegeing seamlessly into the final track: Heart Song, a very personal, intimate love song from Steve to his wife, Jo. Sweet and melodic, it gives me goosebumps and is a wonderful ending to an amazing album.
A stellar cast of musicians must be congratulated for their contributions to Wolflight. Special mention to Roger King, the keyboard master, writer, producer, programmer. His mark on this album has enormous impact and along with Steve and Jo has helped produce what could possibly be the best Hackett album ever…. So far!
Thanks for the review, Jill. We agree with you that Mr Hackett and Co have produced yet another magnificent octopus! Roll on the shows later in the year!