Is Dave Kilminster a name a prog head should recognize? Well, I think so! After being voted 'Guitarist Of The Year' in 1991 he lived up to his reputation by participating on many records, mainly as a guitarist for John Wetton, Geoff Downes and Keith Emerson, just to name a few famous names in the progressive rock scene. After being asked to become the lead guitarist and vocalist for the Roger Waters touring band in 2006, his reputation as a musician rapidly grew. Since that tour Dave Kilminster remained a band member for Roger Waters, travelling the world and playing numerous shows.
When you read the above you might think that his solo efforts gathered on Scarlet - The Director's Cut would be the kind of music from the people he played with over the last decades. Then again, having the title 'Guitarist Of The Year' may also suggest a showcase for his incredible guitaristic performances. However, none of the above is true. Sure, sometimes you may notice some influences of the bands he played with and of course, his guitar playing is flawless, but this album is focussed on the influences Kilminster grew up with blending them into a style of his own.
Scarlet - The Director's Cut contains intense personal songs, starting with Silent Scream, a smooth relaxed song that gets a quirky funky twist. It slightly reflects the music of Extreme, but it comes closer to Ritchie Kotzen's solo work and even Jeff Buckley came to mind. Static has a fine funky bass line and intense vocals; in this song the guitar comes a bit more to the foreground through fierce melodies and nice riffs. The small solo spot for the bass guitar suits this song well. Just Crazy goes in another direction; it's a kind of a melodic rock ballad with strong vocals and a perfect guitar solo. Angel tends toward the progressive rock genre with a guitar sound in the vein of Pink Floyd, but it's just a slight resemblance and never a copy. A relaxed funky guitar sound introduces Chance, which again has a touch of Ritchie Kotzen's style; I think it's the resemblance in singing. Dave's vocals are backed up by some 'ohh's' and 'ahh's', that you either love or hate. However, a nice and jazzy guitar solo sets things right for this song.
Big Blue is a more powerful piece in which Dave Kilminster sings with a higher voice providing the song with a kind of eighties sound. A musical jewel is Brightest Star that comes close to a singer-songwriter composition. The contribution of a string quartet makes this song real intensive and personal. Liar, Liar starts as a nice rock song, but slows down for the type of vocals that suit Kilminster the best: smooth and relaxed. During this song the guitarist sings higher and out loud again, but still his smooth and more emotional voice is my favourite. A powerful guitar solo finishes this composition. Rain... (On Another Planet) lasts for nine minutes and it's one of my highlights. Here Dave sings exactly the way I like and on top he plays the mightiest guitar solo of the album proving to be once elected 'guitarist of the year'. Harkness is a piano-driven song starting nice and relaxed, but halfway the power increases taking the song to an end. Kilminster's funky guitar lines flow into a fine solo that finishes the album.
While reading the names of the musicians Dave Kilminster has played and toured with, I would have expected that he would stick to the genre he feels comfortable with. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised that the songs turned out to be completely different. Personally I like the songs where Dave is singing soft and intense better than the higher pitched vocals, which slightly remind me of the music of the eighties. In general Scarlet - The Director's Cut is a pleasant album to listen to and it places Kilminster on the map as a solo artist.
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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