It’s been a long time since Saga has performed live in the U.S. but they have continued to produce quality albums. It is easy to see how they can still sell albums after 30 years in the business. With this latest studio recording, “Trust”, they outdid themselves. After 30 years they have not lost any freshness in their music. Tackling this project with a brand new drummer to the band the remaining four musicians are faithful to the SAGA signature sound offering eleven brand new songs of some of the best progressive rock out there.
Continuing to feature Michael Sadler on Vocals, Jim Gilmour on keyboards, Ian Crichton on guitars and Jim Crichton on bass, Christian Simpson joins the band on drums, replacing original drummer Steve Negus. The band is solid and the CD brings out the best in each of its members. Sadler experimented a bit more with more layers of vocals on this one, but the final product is good, with as much as 16 layers in some places.
The band has already toured in Europe to promote the CD and promises to tackle the American audience later this fall. Fans should watch their website www.saga-world.com, for tour dates.
Track by track review
1. That’s As Far As I’ll Go – This opening track is placed well with all its texture and layers and upbeat instrumentation and in-your-face vocals. Jim Gilmour is way out front on the keys and Michael Sadler keeps it interesting not only on lead vocals but with the multi-layers of background vocals.
2. Back To The Shadows – This song takes you anywhere but back to the shadows. It is a whirlwind of sound and vocals. Jim Gilmour and Ian Crichton are all over it on keys and guitar. And Sadler does not disappoint on the vocals by any stretch of the imagination. There are shadows of Alan Parsons Project on this one, which is a positive thing.
3. I’m OK – This one has some subtle guitar jazz tones playing. With soft thoughtful lyrics it is a kind of anthem to get through the day by.
4. Time To Play – This track is totally married to the lyrics with a funky and playful backbeat. The staccato vocals are fun too.
5. My Friend – A more melodic tune, this one showcases Sadler’s qualities as a tenor ballad singer. The instrumentation is also more subdued, almost acoustic. Jim Gilmour approaches the keys with a clarinet solo with Ian Crighton on guitar accompaniment
6. Trust – The title track reverts to the stronger prog movement. Upbeat and strong it emphasizes the virtues of trust. The music beneath is just as solid as the virtues the song attempts to extol.
7. It’s Your Life – A straight ahead rock tune, this one is tight not just vocally but the solid breaks are precise and reminds the listener of what is good about prog-rock.
8. Footsteps In The Hall – This one is very different from the rest of the CD. Despite the ominous lyrics and story of someone’s eminent fall this song starts off with a light bouncy feeling both in the melody and accompaniment emphasized by the accent of chimes on the intro and between song parts. The close harmonies are interesting with a slight whimsical feeling to emphasize the bounciness of it all. Gilmour’s keyboard solo takes it a step further before he resolves back to the chimey theme.
9. Ice In The Rain – The various colors in Sadler’s vocals on this one makes this one different. The steady rhythm and the constant playing back and forth by Gilmour and Crichton are married to the Ice in the lyrics so much that you can almost feel the chill.
10. You Were right – The drama underlying the vocals in this track are major fun. The various voices talking back and forth are only accentuated and repeated in theme by Gilmour and Cricton’s arpeggios back and forth. Simpson’s syncopated accents on the high-hat add to the quickness of the vocals and other instrumentation.
11. On The Other Side – This traveling song moves closely with the lyrics and Sadler’s vocals giving the whole song a sense of urgency. There are some interesting harmonies on this one. Gilmour uses a few different patches on this one during the intro and solo to give it a somewhat Celtic feel – a surprise for the last track.