THE TANGENT Ė Songs From The Hard Shoulder


You know the world hasnít gone completely down the drain when you get a new album from The Tangent every two years. Songs From The Hard Shoulder is already their bandís twelfth studio album. If The Tangent were initially possibly dismissed as just another progressive rock super group, time has shown that they have grown as a unit, with this being already their third album recorded with the same line-up.

Andy Tillison on vocals and keyboards is still accompanied by Luke Machin (Machin) on guitar, Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Kaipa) on bass, Theo Travis (Soft Machine) on woodwinds and Steve Roberts (Godsticks) on drums. You shouldnít expect any stylistic deviations from their previous efforts, because frankly once you have found you niche, you stay there and keep writing, recording and releasing.

The new album comes with five songs, four of which make it over a quarter hour running time. The opener The Changes is a typical Tangent long track. Unlike other writers, Andy Tillison never just added movement upon movement, but rather uses his long tracks to tell stories he encountered in life. Here for instance is an recollection about how he and the band lived through the COVID-19 pandemic. While some of the memories are sad, the song ends on a positive note with a rousing finale. The GPS Vultures is an equally long track, although this time an instrumental. As a song, it works quite alright, with lots of space given over to each musician. The songs has a definitive Canterbury vibe, very close to the stuff National Health did in the mid-seventies. And yet putting an instrumental long-track so early on the album robs it a little of its momentum.

Things become truly dark with the twenty-one minute long epic The Lady Tied To The Lamp Post, a song/story about how rich western countries look after those that have the least. Spoiler alert: they usually get nothing at all! Once again this is a track where The Tangent shine at their brightest. The sensitive musical arrangements work perfectly with the gloomy lyrics. The following Wasted Soul is a four-minute soul pop song with a cheerful vibe that feels a little awkward after the darker track that preceded it, and also shows that The Tangent are more at ease with their progressive long tracks. The album ends with the bonus track In The Dead Of Night, a cover version of the opener from U.K.ís eponymous debut album from 1978. Itís funny how they were also a progressive super-group, but on of those that disappeared after its second album. Itís a well-done cover version, sticking at first close to the original, but than veering into a jam session before the song is reprised to end it after sixteen minutes.

Songs From The Hard Shoulder is yet another addition to the growing canon of Andy Tillisonís music catalogue. The Tangent have certainly released better albums, but this one is still superior to most of what is branded these days as progressive rock. We get two stand-out long tracks, a very good long instrumental, a cover version with enough own spirit and a questionable pop songÖ well, they canít all be winners. Fans of The Tangent will have little to complain, and apart from them I guess the main target audience should be fans of vintage progressive rock.

5 songs

75:51 minutes

***** ***

Label: InsideOut

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