Anderson, Jon: Survival & Other Stories
The legendary former front man is back with a brand new release Survival & Other Stories and that my friends is a good thing. It has no doubt been a tough couple of years for Anderson as he has had to overcome a serious illness and an ousting from his former band Yes.
The making of the album is a story in itself as it is a collaboration of musicians from around the world. A few years back Anderson posted a message on his website urging musicians to send him music as he felt a strong desire to be involved with music again. It could have been a recipe for disaster but overall the album really works well.
Now , if you are expecting to be transported to Yes' master works of the '70s you will likely be disappointed. However, if you have an open mind and just want to hear Anderson's voice, which I might add still sounds great, there is much to appreciate here.
This is a very mellow album and some of the most personal music Anderson has ever recorded. Anderson puts his heart on his sleeve and many of these tracks are of a religious nature as Anderson reveals his spiritual side more often than not. Lyrically, Anderson relies less on space age cosmic themes and more on his beliefs. The religious slant to this album may be an issue for some but I don't have a problem with it. This is music from the heart, pure and simple.
That said this is not a very 'progressive' album in the truest sense of the word. It is, however, gorgeously orchestrated in a very subtle way. The songs are generally at a slower pace, with lovely melodies and lots of acoustic guitar and piano with the focus on Anderson's voice which , in my opinion, is never a bad thing.
The album opening "New New World" is one of the more up-tempo numbers with a poppy sound and beautiful strings, the violin work in particular really strikes a chord. In the contemplative "Understanding Truth", gently sweeping acoustic guitar and Anderson's fragile voice is as soothing as the album gets making this one of my favourite tracks.
The pretty "Unbroken Spirit" is another poignant offering with gentle vocals and a subtle groove. It is hard not to be moved when Anderson sings:
No I never turn back
When the fire descended on my soul
Never ran away
When I knew that I was getting old
I never turned back
More highlights include the acoustically driven "Big Buddha Song" and "Effortlessly" with both songs focusing on lush melodies and acoustic intricacies. The album ends with the balladic "Cloudz", a softly orchestrated tune with spacious piano and Anderson's moving voice.
This isn't Yes, nor should it be. I commend Anderson for making music that is so true to his heart. In a world full of lies and deception it is refreshing to hear music this honest. Bravo Mr. Anderson.
1. New New World (4:13)
2. Understanding Truth (2:24)
3. Unbroken Spirit (3:57)
4. Love Of The Life (2:49)
5. Big Buddha Song (5:30)
6. Incoming (7:56)
7. Effortlessly (3:10)
8. Love And Understanding (4:12)
9. Just One Man (4:30)
10. Sharpening The Sword (3:40)
11. Cloudz (6:05)
Added: September 6th 2011
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
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