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Wilson, Steven: Hand Cannot Erase

Singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist and progressive master Steven Wilson returns with a follow up to The Raven That Refused to Sing. Hand Cannot Erase is that album and it's yet another stellar release, and from the production to the songs and performances of those high calibre musicians this is a progressive recording with the finest ingredients. Hand Cannot Erase is not another Porcupine Tree album if that is what you seek and maybe one day we will see another, but for now who can complain with solo albums of this quality.

Like The Raven That Refused to Sing, Hand Cannot Erase is also a concept album told through endearing arrangements. This time based upon the story of Joyce Carol Vincent, a British woman who was found dead in her apartment in 2006. Though shockingly it was discovered that she had actually died some years before this in 2003, despite the fact that she had friends and family. And so Steven Wilson has taken her story and the results can be heard and seen through the songs and artwork.

Once again drummer extraordinaire Marco Minnemann is in the line-up and not to anyway diminish the input of Steven Wilson after all he is the creative mastermind and a talented musician in his own right, though having players this exceptional like Marco, keyboardist Adam Holzman, guitarist Guthrie Govan, bass player Nick Beggs and those other contributors surely helps to produce the desired results.

Everything blends together so well, presenting a mixture of emotions and styles like both pop and rock delving into the past and present. Steven Wilson's vocals aren't the only ones to be heard as there is a female input inline with the theme of this album and proves to be a welcome addition. Hand Cannot Erase begins with the mood setting "First Regret" as the keys lead the way on this atmospheric track and continue into "3 Years Older" a tasteful extended song with a fine classic rock component and sweet sounding guitar licks, it does have some calmer parts due to its welcome diversity. Title track "Hand Cannot Erase" is a great example of how catchy a song can be even if played in odd time, female narration and Wilson's vocals appear on the electronica mix of "Perfect Life", then Wilson is joined by enchanting vocalist Ninet Tayeb on "Routine" together helping to create more musical magic.

To the tasty beats of "Home Invasion" which has a fine, shifting and heavy at times instrumental component, and when the band lays down that ultra cool groove and the vocals come into play those thought provoking lyrics are so relevant to the world we live in, like the line "Download the life you wish you had". The vocals take a rest next as the striking "Regret #9" impresses big time switching from keyboard to guitar solo as Adam Holzman and Guthrie Govan share the spotlight and turn it on. "Transience" is short but sweet, and the epic track "Ancestral" ranges in intensity from peaceful beginnings escalating to a gripping guitar solo while Wilson's heavier side appears later on. Captivating music and vocals with the moving lyrics telling of this tragic story are served up on "Happy Returns" another stellar piece, while fading out with ambient sounds is "Ascendant Here On..." the album's peaceful conclusion.

Steven Wilson is playing such a significant role in keep progressive music relevant, while many artist persist with pumping out safe albums relying on that same old formula. No such issue here as the Hand Cannot Erase is something else, something wonderful.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1. First Regret
2. 3 Years Older
3. Hand Cannot Erase
4. Perfect Life
5. Routine
6. Home Invasion
7. Regret #9
8. Transience
9. Ancestral
10. Happy Returns
11. Ascendant Here On...

Added: June 7th 2015
Reviewer: Scott Jessup
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 3210
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Wilson, Steven: Hand Cannot Erase
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-06-07 08:17:44
My Score:

It's safe to say that Steven Wilson is on a bit of a roll of late, from all the remixing/remastering he has been involved with on classics from Yes, Jethro Tull, and King Crimson to sold out tours & well received reviews for his solo act, the guy seems to be at the forefront of everything that is prog related these days. Here we have his latest solo effort Hand Cannot Erase, a truly enjoyable concept album that works on so many levels thanks to the genius of not only Wilson's songwriting, vocal, and instrumental abilities, but his stellar cast of guests that include Marco Minnemann, Guthrie Govan, Theo Travis, Adam Holzman, Nick Beggs, Chad Wackerman, Katherine Jenkins, Dave Gregory, Ninet Tayeb, the London Session Orchestra, and the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School Choir.

While there are of course moments of pristine pop and catchy classic rock, it's those progressive rock flavors that about on Hand Cannot Erase, of which you hear plenty of on the epic "3 Years Older", as lush Mellotron, searing Hammond organ, and synths combat layers of electric guitars as if it was 1974 all over again. The title track is just a wonderful pop rock ditty, with melodies that immediately stick in your head, while "Routine" offers up lush, pastoral arrangements not unlike Wind and Wuthering era Genesis. Heavier fare such as "Home Invasion" and "Regret #9" allow the guitars & synths to really make a statement, while the near 14-minute "Ancestral" is dreamy, spacey prog, and features a molten guitar solo from the always impressive Gowan.

Easily a contender for album of the year here in 2015, Hand Cannot Erase is another massive triumph for Steven Wilson...not much more you can say than that.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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