Album Reviews

Saga – 20:20 Review

Released By : Ear Music

Genre : Neo-Prog

Link : http://sagaontour.moonfruit.com

 

Lineup:

Michael Sadler : Vocals

Jim Crichton – Bass, Keyboards

Ian Crichton – Guitars

Jim Gilmour – Clarinet, Keys

 

Tracklist:

01. Six Feet Under

02. Anywhere You Wanna Go

03. Ellery

04. Spin It Again

05. Another Day Out Of Sight

06. One Of These Days

07. Ball And Chain

08. Lost For Words

09. Show And Tell

10. Till The Well Runs Dry

 

SAGA surprised everybody in 2009 by announcing that they were going ahead as a band without front-man Michael Sadler after 30 years and a back-catalogue full of amazing Progressive Roc k records. Possibly the bigger surprise was that the enduing album THE HUMAN CONDITION was actually really, really good. The band exposed the world to a new great vocalist in Rob Moratti, and while it wasn’t quite the SAGA of old it was a pretty close interpretation and all seemed to be set for another successful era going forward. I can only imagine how hard it must have been on Rob Moratti when he discovered that Michael Sadler wanted to re-join his old band-mates, but it was sort of a natural evolution that needed to happen in order for SAGA to truly get back to being the Prog powerhouse group they always were.

Now, after spending some time re-acquainting themselves with each other, Sadler and the rest of SAGA are ready to unleash their first studio album together in five years titled 20:20. I can only speculate as to what the title really means, but it makes sense to me as being a reference for Sadler opening his eyes properly and seeing that he needed to be back with SAGA….20:20 vision = Seeing Clearly. Regardless of that though, the band have picked up pretty much where they left off and this new album will easily please long-time fans and impress those that are somehow new to the band.

It’s hard to say yet whether 20:20 is destined to become one of SAGA’S classics because this band’s albums get better over the years and the more you get familiar with them, what I will say though is that I’ve already listened to this beast around thirty or so times, a lot of those consecutive, and I’m still enjoying it as much as the first time I heard it. The most positive thing to come out of the record is probably the fact that Sadler sounds really, really good here. Almost like the break was a good thing for him and now he is recharged and keen to give it his all. With a band full of such talented musicians and song-writers there’s no fear of the rest of the group following Sadler’s enthusiasm either…this product is a result of band refreshed and ready to go.

Whether it’s the drum-roll at the end of the bridge in SIX FEET UNDER, the awesome little electro-Bass licks throughout ANYWHERE YOU WANNA GO, the groovy and energetic guitar riffs in SPIN IT AGAIN, the delicate vocal approach of ANOTHER DAY OUT OF SIGHT,  the solo section in LOST FOR WORDS, the SHOW AND TELL Keyboard solo or the great back-up vocals on closing track TILL THE WELL RUNS DRY, it’s the little things on this album that make it so worth listen to over and over again. Some of my personal favourite moments of this album are ones that I didn’t discover until maybe my tenth or so listen, and that’s with a distraction-free, headphone environment too.

20:20 is a great album by a band that seem more comfortable in their own skin than they have in a long time. If you are a fan of any other SAGA albums or just a Neo-Prog fan in general then this album will sit very nicely in your collection. As for me, well I’ll have to put it aside for a while to make sure I don’t get too behind with my other reviews, but I already can’t wait until I again sit down and spend some more time discovering the little intricacies that make 20:20 so damn addictive.

 

Written By ZeeZee

Rating : 9/10

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