Steve Hackett - The Night Siren album review

Guitar hero mixes the expected and the fresh

Cover art for Steve Hackett - The Night Siren album

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With Steve Hackett enjoying a career high after successfully dovetailing Genesis revisionism and his own still-ambitious work, the guitarist’s latest showpiece, The Night Siren, is a bold, eclectic mix of multicultural sounds fashioned into his preferred bombastic but rousing rock format, and it displays broad scope while hitting the bullet points his fans demand. So while the pacifist global politics are impeccable – Israeli and Palestinian singers, instrumental sections ranging from Iraq to India to Peru – there remains an overall grand sweep of trenchant riffing and proggy intricacy.

Opener Behind The Smoke, stating empathy for refugees, broods in softly – Hackett’s voice is an acquired taste – before going large, warming-up the listener for trips to Martian Sea (a psychedelic flurry) and Fifty Miles From The North Pole (high drama inspired by Icelandic wilderness). There are observations on El Nino, Celtic Scotland, flamenco and childhood nightmares. It’s busy, restless music, peaks piling uponpeaks, which perhaps emphasises the prettiness of the gentler moments. Tracks such as Inca Terra (featuring Nad Sylvan) and The Other Side Of The Wall allow pensive reflection.

Twenty-five solo albums in, Hackett remains interested and inquisitive.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.