Solstice — Spirit
(F2 Records 201002, 2010, CD+DVD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2011-06-01One of the bright spots of 2010 was the return of Solstice. It's been 13 years since their last studio effort, Circles, and I was beginning to wonder if they'd ever return. Other than Andy Glass' spirited and bluesy lead guitar work, the band's defining identity has always included female vocals and violin, plus a sort of hippie-friendly/Yes-ish slant to the material. Glass is no fool and has made sure these elements are in place for the new one. Returning are singer Emma Brown and fiddle player Jenny Newman, who give the group its "Earth-mother" warmth and approachability. Rounding out the lineup are keyboard player Steve McDaniel, bassist Robin Phillips, and drummer Pete Hemsley (shame they couldn't hang on to Clive Bunker!), and overall the band has a pleasant, inoffensive, prog rock demeanor. Similarities can be drawn to groups like Iona and Mostly Autumn. The songs can get gritty at times, as seen on "Flight" and "Here and Now," though the sound on this album also ranges from the uplifting prog of "Sky Path West" to the exotic spiritualism of "Oberon's Folly" (featuring Newman's fiddle work) to the hazy hippie glow of "Spirit." The bonus DVD features a 2009 live set at The Pitz Club, before a small but appreciative audience. And by small I mean friends and family only. It's actually good to have this since the recent Cropredy DVD had technical problems and in truth Solstice are an engaging and vibrant live band. The set here reaches back to early chestnuts like "Brave New World" and fan favorites like "Chicken Train," plus a spirited rendition of "Ducks on the Pond" that gets the crowd a-boppin'. All in all this marks a fine return to form for Solstice, and I hope it's a shorter wait for the next one!
Related artist(s): Solstice
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more