Skyline
Elements

Steve Howe/Steve Howe's Remedy

Yes guitarist Steve Howe has put away the fireworks for a low-key, ambient collection he calls Skyline. While the sound is rich and dense, and sometimes without dual cause, it's a refreshing direction that one of rock's classiest guitarists embarks upon. His third CD with keyboardist/percussionist Paul Sutin, Howe splashes the grooves across a wide spectrum of jazz, new age and acoustic textures with his spitfire, precision guitar work. "Small Acts Of Human Kindness" features a bold and arching lead sailing over a roving rhythm that quickly ascends into a brilliant demonstration of Howe's monumental skills on the pedal steel guitar (an abbreviated version of "Small Acts" book-ends the CD). Where "Moon Song" palpitates with intergalactic qualities, "Avenue de Bel Air" succinctly encapsulates the guitarist's pure picking technique without too much fuss. Although most of the songs follow a rather simplistic dictum, others like "Simplification" are embellished with fluid touches of sophistication and elegance. Skyline may not set the world on fire, but it is a mature and organic depiction of Steve Howe's diversified skills as multifaceted instrumentalist and musical visionary.

Less than a year after Skyline, Howe returned with a band called Remedy and issued Elements. There are 16 songs, three of which feature Howe on vocals. Altogether, the disc encompasses a plethora of styles - from garden variety rock ("Bee Sting," "Load Off My Mind") and jazz ("Westwinds," "Pacific Haze") to blues ("Inside Out Muse") and country ("Where I Belong"). When he isn't following a particular protocol, Howe's idiosyncratic side kicks in on such nimble numbers as "Tremolando," "Hecla Lava" and "The Longing." Backed by a stellar group of players who fill the ranks in Remedy (including sons Virgil on keyboards and Dylan on drums), Howe unveils his uncanny skills and versatility in ways other guitarists could only dream to emulate. Indeed, it never gets dull listening to a true master immersed in his element.

~ Shawn Perry

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