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Kaye, Tony: End Of Innocence

Keyboard player Tony Kaye has been far from prolific in recent years, the two-time Yes man last seen in 2016 with his and Billy Sherwood’s Circa project. Kaye had, in fact, pretty much announced his retirement from music, so it was something of a surprise when his first solo album, End Of Innocence was announced for release on September 10th 2021. The timing of that release was key, the date being the day prior to the 20th anniversary of the tragedy of the terrorist attack on The Twin Towers - this album being deeply inspired by those shocking events, what with Kaye himself being strongly impacted, as we all were. Even with the best of intentions, a release based around this time in history could easily be seen as misjudged, but to Kaye’s huge credit, I’d suggest that End Of Innocence proves to be the exact opposite, with the emotion and intention behind each piece of music perfect in its conveying of the composer’s own emotions towards that fateful day and beyond.

The album, which is largely instrumental, opens with a recording of Kaye’s wife and his co-producer on this album, Dani Torchia, singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, which I believe was recorded the day before our world changed and with that we do indeed enter the End Of Innocence. From there, the poise, emotion and mood takes us through the tragic events of 9/11 and then, as we’ve all had to, moves beyond those days into a time where nothing will ever feel quite the same again. Not so much musically, but more in tone, I’m often reminded of Jean Michel Jarre’s similarly insightful pieces as the journey moves through some of the more contemplative sections, but as is fitting, the tone and mood doesn’t reside here for the album’s full length.

“Tug Of War”, for example, begins to illustrate some of the pre-warnings of the events that unfolded, before drummer Jay Schellen (now of Yes and previously from Circa) adds a previously unheard tension to “Flight 11”, which is interspersed with a telephone call from a flight attendant on that fateful journey as they relay the hijacking of the plane she was on and the treatment of the crew. Kaye handles the situation with real respect and reverence and much though I can’t pretend it always makes for easy listening, it was never intended that way. As you’d anticipate, “Towers Fall” conveys the sense of horrified disbelief that no one who witnessed those events will ever shake off - something illustrated quite beautifully in the album cover art courtesy of Roger Dean.

Providing the only piece on this album that Kaye didn’t write, Dani Torchia adds vocals to her “Sweetest Dreams”, which expertly avoids being cloying or overwrought and from there we move into the period post 9/11 through fitting tracks such as “Heroes”. But Kaye doesn’t shy away from what ensued either, “The Battle”, “Hope And Triumph” and “Homecoming” moving onto the war that followed, and which now leaves many more questions than answers.

The journey ends at “Ground Zero”, defiance and hope shining through on what is a suitably emotional end to a deeply affecting album. However, even in the booklet Kaye ensures that the tone is well observed, each musical piece coming with a quote from someone deeply impacted by the individual events conveyed in the music, and it is also worth mentioning that 10% of the album’s sales will be given to the Gary Sinise Foundation.

Taking on a project such as this could easily have been fraught with danger but I have to say that Tony Kaye has not only handled that aspect of things quite magnificently, he’s also created a hugely moving, respectful and involving album as he did so.

Track Listing
1. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star/Twilight Time

2. 911 Overture

3. NYC Blues

4. Battle Cry

5. 28 Fulton Street

6. Let’s Roll

7. Tug Of War

8. Flight 11

9. Towers Fall

10. Sweetest Dreams

11. Aftermath

12. Hero’s

13. The Battle

14. Hope And Triumph

15. Homecoming

16. Ground Zero

Added: December 11th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Tony Kaye @ Cherry Red
Hits: 610
Language: english

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