ALBUM REVIEW: Hard Shoulder Songs – The Tangent

British progressive rock band THE TANGENT had a whole slew of line-up changes throughout their tenure, but despite that stat, they continued to impress with their nostalgic blend of rock and jazz. Their last effort Hard Shoulder Songs is now available via Music InsideOut and is set to further cement their legendary legacy.

Changes delivers an alluring blend of soothing and psychedelic tones layered meticulously throughout vocal work and ever-changing instrumentation. The lyrical prose immediately immerses you in an accessible narrative that glides on with ease. The abundance of original grooves and hooks is a joy to watch unfold as the track goes through different forms of technicality and dynamism.

GPS vultures let the instruments do the talking, easing you in with a laid-back jazz vibe that soon begins to pick up speed, introducing catchy drum patterns and blazing bass lines. The experimental and quirky flair is truly front and center, keeping you guessing which road this track plans to venture down next. You start to wonder if a 17-minute instrumental track is capable of holding your attention for its entire duration, but time seems to evaporate and it speaks to the pure creative nature on display, even as it descends into obscurity on many occasions.

The lady tied to the lamp post has a rather solemn and contemplative attitude. Fragile vocals and minimalist instrumental accompaniment further amplify this feeling. The lyrics are a stark reminder of how the world as you know it can be turned upside down pretty quickly, and underscores the sheer lack of compassion for other humans who may not be as lucky as you. The falling, flowing tempo helps deliver a dramatic and emotive soundscape.

wasted soul is much shorter than its colleagues but is still full of abundant moods and sensations to digest. The driving, driving beat pulls you in with minimal effort. bonus track In the dead of night is an avowed medley of a tribute to the progressive rock supergroup UK combined with THE TANGENThis own view of things. This aligns well with the overall product and intended direction. As the track progresses, it delves more into the unpredictable instrumental magic we know; whether it’s keyboards, guitars, bass or drums, nothing is left to chance.

Hard Shoulder Songs maybe not for everyone as it delves into some rather unconventional styles, but for anyone who’s a fan of the limitless creativity that the realm of progressive rock brings, this should be right up your street. THE TANGENT have a knack for crafting inviting melodies and enjoyable lyrics that draw you in from the start and will keep you coming back to unravel more of the sheer diversity available in each piece.

Rating: 8/10

Songs From The Hard Shoulder is available now via InsideOut Music.


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Grace D. Erickson