Steve Hughes the Ex drummer of bands like Big Big Train, Kino and The Enid has developed himself into a multi instrumentalist. In the year 2015 his first solo album “Tales From The Silent Ocean” is released. After the successor “Once We Were - Part One” that was released in a red cover, this “Once We Were - Part Two” is stabbed in a blue version of that same album cover design. To be honest, I did not hear Part One so I can't compare the two or see the connection of both albums. The info sheet tells me that “Once We Were” is dealing with the themes of tragic loss, love and hope. The album has been released on the German label Progressive Promotion Records.
Steve Hughes - drums, percussion, keyboards, bass, guitars, vocals
Angie Hughes, Katharine Piel - vocals
Richie Phillips - saxophone
Maciej Zolnovsky - violin
Keith Winter, Dec Burke - guitar
The album opens with a song called “The Game”. The first thing I notice is that Steve has a pleasant and good voice that is nice to hear. “The Game“ is a slow track with nice melodies and vocal lines. The saxophone of guest player Richie Phillips gives the last part of the song a jazzy atmosphere. This is followed by the up tempo track “Life's A Glitch”. You can find some nice keyboard and guitar parts on this track but I am not completely convinced yet.
The short piece “Propaganda Part Two” has beautiful synth parts that reminds me somewhat of the solo albums of the late Camel keyboardist Peter Bardens. The first highlight of the album is the track “They Promise Everything” that opens with a beautiful vocal part. When this is followed with an instrumental part with great synth solo's I have for the first time the feeling that I am listening to a progressive rock album. Those progressive bits are combined with synth-pop parts, but this works very fine, great track which also includes some female vocals of guests Angie Hughes and Katja Piel.
In the middle section of “There's Still Hope” you can find some beautiful atmospheric violin parts of guest Maciej Zolnowski. This is followed by the up tempo track “She's” in which the tension of the music is nicely building up towards a climax with hectic guitar, synths and drums parts. The short and light “Spider On The Ceiling” is followed by the longest track “Clouds”. This is for me the highlight of the album. Lush keyboard parts, nice guitar and synth solo's in a light jazz fusion atmosphere. At one point a jazzy guitar solo did me remind me of Pat Metheny in his The Pat Metheny Group period. But this long and mainly instrumental piece has alternate atmospheres. The music sounds fresh and uplifting. Love this track! “One Sweet Word” closes this album.
Somehow I have the feeling that I can not give you a good impression of “Once We Were” because I haven't heard Part One. That first part included a real epic of more that thirty minutes. Part Two is for me now a little bit an incoherent album. Maybe this is also because the album has a mix of musical styles. It has it's moments with nice keyboard and guitar work. And I love the use of the violin in the music. I enjoyed listening to “They Promise Everything”, “She's” and my favorite song “Clouds”. It is a good album, but personally I am not convinced. So I recommend you to have first a listen to this album before you decide to add this album to your collection. But I am aware that if you already own Part One ... you have to buy Part Two also. You decide!