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Hughes, Steve: Once We Were Part One

Steve Hughes was born in London in 1975. After studying music for a short time in school he became a long time member of Big Big Train from 1991 to 2003. After that it was on to Kino and The Enid. He released his debut album Tales From the Silent Ocean in 2015 and has followed it with the excellent Once We Were Part One.

For those interested in melodic progressive rock with elements of symphonic and neo look no further than Once We Were. This is a first class production brimming with great melodies, stellar musicianship and excellent song craft. Although Hughes handled the drumming duties for Big Big Train this album demonstrates he is a fine multi-instrumentalist as he also handles vocals, bass, synths, guitar, harmonica and programming.

The album contains nine tracks of deliciously melodic progressive rock. Some might also refer to this has cross-over prog or art rock but no matter what you call it the songs are really quite irresistible. The album kicks off with the complex "The Summer Soldier", a massive track thirty-three minutes in length and one of the disc's highlights. You will hear awesome grooves, melodic synth and guitar solos, tricky drum patterns, changes in tempos and fine lead vocals. For the most part the music is upbeat but does slow down periodically into moodier keyboard/guitar laden soundscapes. Next is "A New Light", a dreamy ballad with the focus on vocals, keys and melody. "For Jay" is more in the realm of progressive pop/rock, in line with '80s Alan Parsons. On "Kettering Road" a dreamy vocal arrangement and piano intro lead into a crisp mid-tempo groove where again melody seems to be a main focus. The softer sections have an ambient vibe that build slowly with delicious vocal and synth arrangements. Hughes lays down a wonderfully soaring guitar solo near song's end. In "Was I Wrong?" the guitar takes on more bite with Dec Burke adding his skills on the six string. No matter how you slice it, Once We Were Part One is quite simply outstanding and I for one cannot wait for the implied Part Two. Released on Progressive Promotions Records.

The rest of the players are:
Alex Tsentides (bass)
Keith Winter (guitar)
Dec Burke (guitar)
J.C. Strand (guitar)
Katja Piel (vocals)
Angie Hughes (vocals)
Maciej Zolnowski (violin)

Track Listing:
1. The Summer Soldier
2. A New Light
3. For Jay
4. Kettering Road
5. Propaganda: Part One
6. Was I Wrong?
7. That Could've Been Us
8. Second Chances
9. Saigo Ni Moichido

Added: September 15th 2016
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 1581
Language: english

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