Steve Howe - Natural Timbre - 2001


At last the Steve Howe who knew how to attract us in the seventies with those two wonderful solo records parallels to the best Yes era (of course I am talking about "Beginnings" and "The Steve Howe Album") is back. I don´t know if the decision of releasing at the same time this CD and the mediocre "Magnification" has been made by chance or intentionally to compensate. Three tracks have been chosen by the fans and "Your Move", "Disillusion" and "To Be Over" have been re-recorded, specially detaching the first one where the listener can enjoy with the whole details and shades of the guitars, masked in previous covers of the song.


The CD covers a mixture of styles: classical music, country, blues..., but all the tracks have the personal seal of this genius. I can only reproach him some repetitions in ideas or concepts ("J´s Theme" reproduces fragments of the delicate "Surface Tension" from TSHA, "Family Tree" is similar, in some moments- to "Nous sommes du soleil"). But it´ll be better that Howe himself introduces this CD:

"This is my first completely acoustic studio project. I´d imagined there´d be some restrictions leaving electric instruments behind, but there weren´t. Most of the music I´ve written came about on acoustic guitar anyway, so I only had to gather my ideas and play. Part of my collection, the acoustic guitars and mandolin family, came alive around me - a very different experience for me."

"Distant Seas" (6:14) "While I was in Japan in 1973 I bought a handmade classical guitar by Kohno. Later, in London, I bought a Koto (a long, curved, Japanese instrument with strings stretched across) and began recording it with groups and solo work. Here these two interplay at times, echoing the sound of far off distant places, customs and songs."

"Provence" (3:59) "Finger picking is one of my favorite guitar styles. From Country the tune develops in a `consort' style with interplay between the violin and the other guitars."

"Intersection Blues" (2:28) "Big Bill Broonzy played great country picking blues on his guitar and also sung powerfully. I listened to him lots and here I´ve incorporated some of his phrases and possibly some Chet Atkins too."

"Family Tree" (4:29) "We grow in one, start our own then ours start their own, widening the branches of our tree."

"J´s Theme" (3:50) "Everything begins as an idea in someone´s mind. It continues after it´s realized it exists. Once it´s begun it might never end, if love was just a dream..."

"In The Course Of The Day" (3:33) "Days aren´t totally predictable, the unexpected tests us again and again. As with music, I like some element of the unknown, so I often include spaces for spontaneous play. To our friends in Lititz, PA."

"Dream River" (3:58) "Here both the guitars are played fingerstyle, a plectrum is sometimes limiting. Jazz guitar is a style I´ve always adored there´s been many guitars - Django, Wes, Tal and Kenny Burrell, plus many more. Since I met Martin Taylor he´s excited and awoken me to other possibilities."

"Golden Years" (4:35) "Through the eyes of those who can´t disguise what they have seen."

"The Little Galliard" (1:22) "As the 17th Century began John Dowland´s music and lute (note: a string instrument from Arabia brought by Crusaders) songs had gained popularity and many were titled to a person and often included "Galliard". This refers to a dance form similar to Pavan. Besides many solo lute tunes he wrote brilliant lute songs - Julian Bream and Peter Pears performed Dowland´s music in a most excellent manner. Here I´ve adapted a small piece and performed in on a guitar, dated 1834, by Louis Panormo from England."

"Up Above Somewhere" (3:55) "Just as the evening shadows fall I´ll confide you, once more..."

"Curls & Swirls" (2:33) "Mandolin groups or orchestras were popular in the 1920s, they´d play standards and classical works, often on Gibson instruments. I´ve added steels and guitars to the basic line-up of the mandolin family group."

"Pyramidology" (3:06) "Symmetry is beautiful to my eye. It´s in pyramids, in music and people."

"Lost For Words" (3:55) "Pizzicato mandolins and mandolas support the guitar here as it twists round the structure."

"Winter" (2:16) "Here I´m playing my arrangement of the 2nd movement from Winter, part of Vivaldi´s Four Seasons. He wrote a lot of other music for mandolin, this was originally for the violin."

"Solar Winds" (3:54) "It´s been fun exploring playing solos and the whole acoustic range that I´m so fortunate to have."

"Your Move" (3:27) "Here are three instrumental Yes songs. After some consideration of which songs to do, "Your Move" stood out as I take Jon´s vocal acoustic guitar. Chris on mandolin and my lines on mandola."

"Disillusion" (1:.40) "Here two steels play the vocal parts, with the usual guitar support, while I take some lead fills on top."

"To Be Over" (6:10) "This song has remained unplayed since 1975! With some reverence to the original, I perform this favorite of mine on the guitar and mandolin family."


A CD which every Yes fan and every guitar aficionado must have in his collection.

author - date - rating - label

Eduardo Aragón - February 2002 -   - Eagle Records