Steve Hackett – Surrender Of Silence: Album Review

Steve Hackett punctuates his ongoing Genesis based live shows with another class solo work.

Release Date: 10th September 2021

Label: Inside Out Music

Format: CD / LP / deluxe CD+DVD / digital

While the music of what most fans see as the classic period of Genesis dominates his live work, Steve Hackett can’t be accused of standing still in his solo work. A run of beautifully written and executed solo albums over the last few years were topped with the acoustic instrumental Under A Mediterranean Sky earlier this year.

He’s also found time to write and record a ‘rock’ album. ‘Rock’ being the key word as Surrender Of Silence balances out his acoustic meanderings with a noisy and free abandon. Not that it’s lacking any subtlety or nuance. That comes as standard as does his current preoccupation with travel, world music and world events that have massively influenced the new material. One can imagine, for examples, Steve posing for a photo for Jo in front of St Basils’ Cathedral, possibly wearing the famous Russian furry hat, and the ideas forming for Natalia. Bar the lovely closing coda of Esperanza, there’s a distinct lack of acoustic moments in favour of typical Hackett orchestral grandeur and drama along with some searing plugged in bouts of electricity.

A large cast (notably Phil Ehart of Kansas who provides a link back to 1978 when he played on Hackett’s Please Don’t Touch) join Steve and the core of Roger King (credit for the orchestral arrangements), Jonas Reingold, Amanda Lehmann and the strong viola/violin presence of Christine Tonwsend to furnish Surrender Of Silence with a never boring, unpredictable variety.

A trademark Hackett lead off instrumental comes via The Obliterati – an intro that swings into the grand Wagerian orchestral Natalia. The presence of its huge classical / orchestral arrangement occasionally parts to reveal acoustic touches and some lovely harmonies. The opening flurries hold a strong cinematic ambience and there can’t be too many who haven’t made a musical link between Wingbeats and music from The Lion King. All tribal rhythms and massed voices straight from Pride Rock. We all know about Steve and Jo Hackett’s travel adventures but seems they’re also big Disney fans… Not for long though as there’s a delicious Hackett lead line that soon grabs the attention.

The Devil’s Cathedral and Held In The Shadows have made it to the live show to represent the new material. Two more ‘band’ style pieces rather than the big production numbers. However, it’s the travelogue that comes with Shanghai To Samarkand that’s possibly the one piece that typifies the acknowledgement of the breadth of influences that feed into 2021 Steve Hackett music. The extended piece stitches several sections including an ominous build up to rather hefty riff that’s not too far off a certain iconic rock track you’ll know and one of several Hackett leads to challenge some of his landmark melodies.

Typical too of the philosophy of never staying on one place too long, even within the same song. Heavy guitar makes several appearances amidst the shifting pallette of world music styles. Surrender Of Silence gives us a heady combination of the romantic and the and macabre, the dramatic and the subtle and even the soulful that comes when Durga and Lorelei McBroom add their parts to Wingbeats. Ultimately, there’s one common factor; the one thing that provides the common thread throughout the latest Hackett roundabout of moods and styles. At the core, you’re thankfully never too far away from the fizz of his electric guitar whose percussive tone punctuates the material.

With Hackett going on record to say how retirement is not an option, there’s no sign of slowing down. Resting on laurels? Pah – no chance as he continues to explore some of the genuinely most exciting music of his career.

Here’s Natalia from the album:

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