This is the fourth studio album that progfolk formation Solstice released after their acclaimed debut album entitled Silent Dance from 1984. In those days of the rise of the neo-prog movement, Solstice was a bit of a maverick. You will notice this if you listen to their contribution to the compilation LP Fire In Harmony, a very tasteful and interesting release. In fact Solstice is still a bit of a maverick, I conclude after listening to their new studio effort Spirit (only featuring guitar player Andy Glass as an original member). Their pleasant and melodic sound is an adventurous blend of several styles with a lush instrumentation. The warm, a bit soaring voice of Emma Brown turns out to be a captivating contrast with the harder-edged guitar work (including frequent use of the wah-wah pedal), often Jimmy Page comes to my mind. The violin adds a folky flavour to the music, but in combination with the powerful guitar, I notice a strong jazzrock undertone (in the vein of JL Ponty) like in Sky Path West, Flight and the long final title track (that contains sultry sitar and a slow synthesizer solo). A fascinating track is Here & Now with wah-wah guitar and a violin sound that reminds me of Led Zeppelinís folk rock adventures. In my opinion Solstice has made an inspired and fresh sounding album that will appeal to a wide range of progheads.
The DVD contains interviews and a concert from 2009 in which Solstice treats us to a pleasant blend of old and new songs (in 2009 Spirit was a forthcoming album). The atmosphere is good and the band plays enthusiastically and .. always nice to see two women on stage (vocals and violin), which is not very common in progrock!
*** + Erik Neuteboom (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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