Saturday, August 7, 2010

Al Stewart - Dark Side (1990)

As a preface I want to say that this is a rather elusive and mysterious release. These tracks were apparently recorded in 1990, but the album wasn't released until 2000 by the relatively small label Jackdaw. It's not featured on his wikipedia discography and I can't seem to find cover art for it anywhere. Which is all strange because its a very solid album.

Although he sort of dropped off the radar and the majority of the public seemed to have forgotten about him when the 70's ended, Al Stewart continued on with a rather prolific music career. His music has aged like a fine wine, and he's one of the few musicians who made better music later on than during their heyday, unlike Lou Reed or countless others who fell off or lost it. I'm not trying to knock "Year of the Cat" era Al Stewart or the early folk portion of his oeurvre, I'm just pointing out that he matured and expanded his sound, experimenting with different instruments and ideas and he did so without conforming to trends of the time and by keeping his own signature style, which is something many musicians could never manage to do. British folk rock-cum-adult contemporary has never sounded so fresh and inspiring. Despite what it's title will lead you to believe, this album is anything but dark. On the contrary, its rather uplifting and optimistic. Nearly every song is flawlessly fleshed-out - a would-be hit 30 years prior - an excellent fusion of classic rock revival, soaring melodies, and introspective psychedelic yacht rock (as crazy as that may sound).

Rating: 9/10