The Dutch guitar player Eddie Mulder is certainly no stranger to the progressive rock scene in The Netherlands. He already made a name as a musician in bands such as Flamborough Head, Trion and Leap Day. But also as a solo artist he can already look back on a rather large back catalogue. In 2015 he released his first solo effort Dreamcatcher (see review). At the start of his solo career his releases were mainly albums on which his guitars were the only instruments in the spotlight. The more albums he released as Eddie Mulder the more musicians he asked to contribute. This way his compositions started to sound like a real band effort. Now in 2023 he has released his ninth studio album To The Centre.
Like many of it's predecessors this new album was produced by Eddie Mulder and Henk Stel. Also as on all of his earlier releases this album compromises mainly mellow instrumental pieces. Instrumental pieces on which Eddie has mainly a leading role by playing some excellent guitar parts. However this time around he thought it was the right time to include a tune which includes vocal parts.
Let's go track by track!
The opening piece is the title track. It is a excellent song with a great synth solo done by Gert van Engelenburg (Leap Day), who also co-wrote this composition with producers Mulder and Stel. Certainly one of my favourites songs on this album. A song which reminded me of the Italian band Phoenix Again. A band who also mainly plays instrumental music. Next up is Lullaby, a fine short guitar instrumental with some nice atmospheric keyboards in the background. It is followed by Unexpected Journey. A great laidback jazzy tune with an excellent synthesizer solo performed by Kayak keyboard player Ton Scherpenzeel. The song reminded me once more of Phoenix Again. And another musical favourite of mine that's for sure. Follow up Beltane is another beautiful short acoustic guitar piece on which you can only hear Mulder touching his guitars. Not So Easy is another band effort with great playing on the fretless bass and synthesizers. Eddie shines all the way here on his guitars! Again Phoenix Again comes to mind. The same goes for Panta Rhei which has an excellent guitar solo. Another beautiful short acoustic guitar piece is next and has the title Work In Progress.
Now it is time for the only song which features vocals. On the rather mellow track Fairytale you can hear the fine voice of Terje Craig. He also played the bass on the earlier mentioned Not So Easy. Eddie does fine guitar playing on this piece of music. On the next track Muse, it is again Scherpenzeel who accompanies Mulder on his keyboards. It is a beautiful mellow tune. On Concentration it is again if you are listening to the earlier mentioned Phoenix Again. Producer Stel does some fine keyboard parts on this laid back track. Next up is Nostalgia. A great romantic mellow tune on which electric and acoustic guitars are perfectly combined. Probably one of the highlights on this excellent album. It is followed by the shortest track on the album. Mark The Place is mainly Eddie on the electric guitar. The album ends with another rather laid back jazzy tune. On the bonus track Summerbreeze (which was recorded during the Blind Hunter sessions) you get the feeling that the last days of summer are there. Enjoy it with your loved ones. Having a fine glass of wine in your hands next to the bonfire which is burning on the beach. Finally I'll have to mention drummer Albert Schoonbeek who did some excellent playing throughout the entire album!
Eddie can again be very proud of himself. Again he released a solo album which has only strong compositions which never sound boring or dull. He always manages to keep the listener focused on the music. As before you can say that he moved music wise in the same musical direction as on all of his predecessor. Again strong mellow pieces of music on which you can dream away. The pieces on which you hear him mainly on his acoustic guitar, the music moves from time to time into the direction of the English guitarist Gordon Giltrap. The same kind of very melodic finger picking can be found in Eddie's music. But also the influences of people such as Steve Hackett, Steve Howe and Anthony Phillips come to the surface from time to time. However he never copies those fantastic guitar players.
Highly recommended to those who enjoy strong instrumental compositions and are into the music of Phoenix Again and Gordon Giltrap. But also fans of Flamborough Head and Leap Day will enjoy this release whole heartedly. Album favourites are To The Centre, Unexpected Journey and Nostalgia. Well done Eddie!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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