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On disc: Saga

House Of Cards - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars
20/20 - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars


(earMusic - 2012)

When you first look at the cover art of the new Saga album it's a bit strange... A b/w photo and some might know this thing from a visit to the eye specialist, the title 20/20 also sounds a bit strange... But it all make sense! Eye specialists use the term '20/20' for perfect eye-sight and if you know that Saga keyboarder Jim Gilmour almost lost sight at their last tour, it make perfect sense - beside that it's their 20th studio album of the Canadians. For fans it also marks the return of Michael Sadler.

Just from the beginning it's obviously Saga you are listening to and it's great to hear Michael Sadler again. The opener Six Feet Under has references to their past and sounds fresh at the same time. A prog rock track which might soon be among their classics! With Anywhere You Wanna Go they change direction, but just slightly. The song isn't as complex as the opener, but has a pop appeal without being overly catchy... Check out the trailer to get an idea...

Ellery is like a travel back in time... It brings back memories of the early 80's, but also has a pop rock edge. Quite heavy is Spin It Again, heavy riffs stand up against the keyboard, sometimes it's like a sonic battle... As usual you get catchiness and progressive sounds, so they hook you up right away but also give you details to discover at the 10th... 100th spin. One of my favorites is One Of These Days, an up-tempo rocker with heavy riffs, a catchy hook and lots of keyboards. This time no audible references to the past and not a radio-friendly tune - but infectious! Another one of my faves is Ball And Chain, this one brings back memories... it has some of their 80's trademark sounds. And Michael Sadler once more shows that he's essential for the sound of Saga - or is it just me? Actually the 2nd half is easier to get into, but after a few spins you'll fall for every track on 20/20! But if you need an easy one to get into, check out the moody Lost For Words! The closer Till The Well Runs Dry is a classic Saga tune and simply enchanting! I confess I love Saga since Silent Knight came out - and soon got into their previous album -, saw them in Jan. 1982 for the first time and always loved their music, so forgive me if this isn't as objectively as usual.

Highly recommended for any fan of the Canadian and all lovers of prog rock with a catchy edge!

9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


House Of Cards

House Of Cards
(Steamhammer - 2001)

It's amazing how the Canadians keep there style and still sound fresh after more than 2 decades! House Of Cards offers eleven songs incl. 2 new chapters (the chapter 11 and 15) and soon the last chapters will complete the story. At Ashes To Ashes (chapter 11) the guitar partly quotes old Saga songs which are from the early days of the band (e.g. Silent Knight album). This elements will make the chapters sound more homogene when the story is finally told.

One of my favorite tracks is the catchy tune called Only Human which starts slowly before it starts grooving, but holding back the power... A moody one. Totally different is the single Money Talks which really rocking pop song where the keyboard builds the playground for Michael Sadlers vocal lines. But sometimes the guitar is toping Jim Gilmour's keyboard and it got a more rocking edge.

On the track That's How We Like It! the main elements of the Saga sound are in a perfect balance... Rocking guitar, keyboard parts, like a battle between them where for a while the guitar is on top, than the keyboard, all based on the solid ground build by the rhythm section.

The title track finished the album and at House Of Cards the guitar riffing of Jim Crichton is more aggressive than on other tracks (during chorus), even singer Michael Sadler is giving the Saga songs the certain something...

8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


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