Emotional Creatures Part 3
July 23rd 2020
Levelled: Emotional Creatures, Part 3 is the sixth album by Englishman Steve Thorne, the successor to Island of the Imbeciles (2016) and the third part of his trilogy Emotional Creatures. With some imagination you could call Thorne a (prog) singer/songwriter. The album was mixed by the prog-acclaimed Rob Aubrey (IQ, Pendragon, Spock`s Beard, Big Big Train), Thorne sat next to Aubrey at the controls and is also responsible for production.
In the past, Steve Thorne has made extensive use of a variety of respected prog musicians from the UK, on this album he is breaking this trend. The drums are played by Kyle Fenton (Cosmograf) while the electric lead guitar is in the hands of completely unknown local artist Geoff Lea. Both Fenton and Lea deliver mature and solid performances and support their employer optimally, especially listen to the latter’s phenomenal guitar parts. As usual, Steve Thorne plays all other instruments himself.
I don’t know what it is with Thorne, but every time I hear his music it puts a smile on my face. The recognisability factor is enormous and his melodies are always written in capitals. Moreover, the man’s vocal qualities are of a more than decent level and he always knows how to keep the instrumentation exciting. Then, if you are also capable of supplying each song with a great tune and a catchy chorus then you are in the right place. And then there’s the lyrics.
“The album is sure to challenge pretty much everybody lyrically with its controversial subject matter!” Steve states. He comes up with some strong comments in which he explains the central idea behind the album. This explanation is full of conspiracy theories, especially the Moon landing in 1969 which is something that fills him with horror and distrust; according to Thorne this event never took place, and we respond to this with denial, ignorance and disinterest. Moreover, he doubts whether the Earth revolves around the Sun. Well, what can I say to that? Fortunately, the dreariness is restricted to the lyrics, the music is far from it and often sounds deceptively positive and up-lifting. If, for instance, IQ would tackle these topics, you could safely say that the music involved would more likely be doom and gloom as well, but not with Thorne. He knows how to wrap these dark lyrics in an attractive kind of (prog) rock music that gets you enthralled almost instantaneously. A kind of Trojan Horse, as it were, probably putting the message across in an even better way. Smart thinking.
Little Boat (Part 1) opens the album, a short acoustic intro in the best busker tradition with brass band and all. It sounds a bit like Pink Floyd’s Outside the Wall, further enhanced by snippets, sound collages and voices, true to the famous icons’ example. The song spills over into He Who Pays the Piper, an excellent song, arguably the best on the album. Ominous atmosphere, musically leaning a bit towards Alan Parsons Project, the odd twelve-string guitar (Thorne himself), almost ten minutes of that typical Thorne signature. “So NASA lied about the man upon the Moon”, is the frequently recurring lyric, further exploring the conspiracy theory. Brilliant guitar contribution from Geoff Lea, and I’m all ears now. Rainy Day in New York also has that recognisable sound that only Thorne can create, again with wandering electric guitar from Lea, less prog, more like AOR, but of high quality.
The pace slows down, Waking Up is a beautiful ballad with excellent fretless bass playing by Thorne, please check it out. The melody lingers for a long time, the harmony vocals are strong as always. A lyrical attempt at positivism, “embrace the good, good people”, can’t hurt. During World Salad Surgery there’s strong reminiscence of Fish’s early solo work, especially Vigil in the Wilderness of Mirrors coming to mind. A kind of spoken, staccato lyric, often of a pedantic nature, with restrained anger. The music is rock solid and once again has a strong proggy tone. Just listen to the middle section, the duel between guitar and keys – hats off.
Little Boat (Part I)
He Who Pays The Piper
Rainy Day In New York
Word Salad Surgery
The Fourth Wall
I Won't Forsake Truth
Little Boat (Part II)