Steve Anderson, guitarist for The Room, Grey Lady Down & Sphere3, has at last released a solo album called Journeyman’s Progress. As those bands are melodic rock, progressive rock and jazz-rock, I was expecting some or all of that mixed into the eleven instrumental tracks. This proved to be true, but the blend he has achieved and, with extra touches of percussion and acoustic meanderings means he has accomplished so much more.
Take lead track proper (after all, a prog album always starts with a very short intro) ‘Coda’, the electric guitar harmonies are soothing and have a mediaeval feel until the ‘My Sharona’ like beat cuts in and it becomes a true song, with a synth backing a studied and rather excellent guitar solo that has no histrionics, just melody. ‘Hellebore’ and ‘Circlet’ are short diversions of acoustic beauty.
‘Mr Mekano’ starts off with sound effects of what sounds like a workshop, possibly with a metal construction toy, before the complex, clever and fascinating jazz/fusion/prog/rock blend begins to sing verses and chorus without the need for words. ‘For Nancy’ is another acoustic delight before the strange, essentially sound effects rattle rhythmically around but appear not all that essential. Neither really is ‘The First Step’ as its keyboards create a pleasant sound, but it doesn’t seem to get anywhere. Final track, ‘Journeyman’ however is a triumph of piano and guitars building to a brilliant piece of melodic prog that has depth, light, shade and is catchy too… ten minutes of quality rock with another verse and chorus that doesn’t need a vocalist as Steve does it better with his fluid guitar playing.
Okay, a couple of tracks are for special occasions when you want to confound non-prog lovers, but the rest of the album is an excellent blend of all of Steve’s bands with added texture and subtlety. The album also has ‘Part One’ appended so, hopefully, we will soon be hearing more of his sonic explorations.