Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Review by Matt Bolton
Musical genius Steven Wilson releases his fourth solo record, away from Prog Rockers Porcupine Tree, who are greatly missed since going on hiatus in 2010. I can really credit the man as being a great talent whether his amazing ability to play the keys; starting with the beautiful intro of first regret and building on as the song continues with 3 years older; or the strumming of the guitar that leads into that distinct Steven Wilson sound. The guitar riff and bass groove is reminiscent of probably my favourite song, or the song I always go back to off last album, The Raven That Refused to Sing…., being first track Luminol.
The guitar is soothing and the music reminds me of Jethro Tull at times. I’m sure Wilson working with Ian Anderson, remixing and remastering the classic album Aqualung in 2011 has had some influence in his music. Title track, Hand Cannot Erase, is another beautiful song with infectious strumming of the guitar and more strong musicianship. Perfect life features a spoken word piece by Katherine Jenkins about memories of the characters sister when she was only 13 and how close she was with her for a short time. This is a concept album inspired by a lady by the name of Joyce Carol Vincent, who moved to a large city and died in her apartment with nobody noticing for three years.
Routine is a simple song that seems to be singing about doing household chores but is so much more with female vocalist Ninet Tayeb who adds a nice touch to the album, complimenting Wilson’s strong voice. There is a lot going on in this song and the guitar solo half way into the song even sounds similar to one of those cool Dire Straits solos with that distinct tone. After some heavy strumming there is a progressive outburst that kicks you in the teeth.
The song that gets full marks for me is Home Invasion. Everything about this song is flawless. The funky riff, jazzy beat, use of mellotron, keyboards and all round cool vocal style used by Wilson; sounding like something taken from the 70’s; and cool effects, even spacey sounding guitar sounds. There is an awesome guitar solo working down the fret board here. The bass grooves throughout.
Another song worth noting is Ancestral which is a progressive-oriented track. Wilson’s voice shines here and there is yet another amazing guitar solo. The song gets more and more progressive with the drums changing from straight out rolls as the bass bellows and the sound of violins sound. This is the dark part of the album and it comes as a treat to the listener. It quietens down and becomes somewhat eerie then after a deep, dark heavy riff Marco Minnemann thrashes away on the drums. My picks for the album would definitely be this and the earlier mentioned Home Invasion.
The album is dark yet beautiful, being a testament to Wilson’s discography. The man has outdone himself. Let’s just hope Porcupine Tree also make a return.