Review – Steve Anderson – Journeyman’s Progress Part One – by John Wenlock-Smith

Steve Anderson is one of the founding members of The Room and is also a part of Grey Lady Down and Sphere3, ‘Journeyman’s Progress Part One’ is his first solo album and explores his musical ideas from a completely blank canvas. This release is naturally guitar focused with the instrument taking centre stage but Steve also provides good bass work and keyboard support throughout the whole eleven tracks, which range from acoustic sketches and interludes through to the epic title track.

It all begins with a brief acoustic moment, Solus, which is swiftly followed by Coda which introduces Steve’s electric guitar lines as they slot over a delicate keyboard sound. This is a very melodious sounding track with a strong organ sound that gives way to a more up-tempo section alongside a solid beat, taking the track forward, an exciting part, the pacing steady and well thought through. This allows space for the guitar to stretch out a little which is done in great style. A Glimpse Of Light opens with a gentle acoustic guitar and great playing that delights, as does the sensitive backing supporting and enriching the track. The piece moves along most satisfyingly, it is a good track with lots of imagination at work. Hellebore is an acoustic vignette, almost like a track from the likes of Will Ackerman or similar. This is followed by the further short soundscape of Circlet which is suitably imagined and engaging.

The percussion sounds that open Mr Mekano are contained within angular and jagged riffing which creates an atmosphere of unease. It is certainly a bit darker sounding in tone, a good bass part runs through this track and when the sound breaks out into a harder sounding and jarring rhythmic section, one cannot fail but to be impressed by its sheer musicality that really captures something special. This then morphs into Descent, which definitely has a feel of going down that is conveyed by the music. The tone is almost bleak sounding, well it conveys that feeling to me, and the low bass part adds depth to help reinforce the sentiment. All in all, it is a most impressive track and guitar effects add to the mood. For Nancy is much lighter and was written for Steve’s wife. This piece is both joyful and also beautifully realised, it conveys warmth and contentment and satisfaction in its brief running time. Glass Quartet returns us again to the percussive sounds, similar to clocks but that are actually wine glasses being hit with wooden skewers. The First Step sees Steve getting all ambient and using synths to create a track that could easily be used for a science fiction film, with its nods to Blade Runner and Jean-Michel Jarre really hitting the mark. It is a most interesting track, very well delivered and imaginative in its scope and ambitions. The Title track Journeyman’s Progress concludes the album with its extended ten minute running time that allows space for its many sections to emerge fully, from acoustic to full flights of electric guitar passages, it is a very good track indeed. I especially like the use of counterpoint harmony where the keyboards soar over the main melody and how the build up for the extensive guitar segment is introduced, and subsequently delivered, all with very solid backing. It really is a glorious section of the track, the synths really take this track to great heights, it is most satisfying to hear the degree of craftsmanship that has gone into making this music.

Nothing here overstays it’s welcome in addition the variety of styles and approaches utilised throughout help to create a very solid and engaging sound palette. The whole album is served up in a classy looking package which includes some intriguing artwork from Ruby Anderson and a good logo design that would look equally as fine on a T Shirt. Additionally the album was mixed and mastered by The Tangent’s Andy Tillison (a man who certainly knows how to do these things) exceedingly well and to a very high standard.

‘Journeyman’s Progress Part One’ has many hidden charms and many fine musical passages and, overall, the album has a great flow to it as it moves through its many moods and emotions. The music has some most excellent dynamics that enliven and highlight the excellence of the compositions, I think it a very well realised musical statement and I urge you to check it out for yourself as it’s definitely one worth seeking out!

Released 4th February, 2022.

Order from bandcamp here:

▶︎ Journeyman’s Progress Part One | Journeyman’s Progress (