Parsons, Alan - The Secret,
This is the first album from Mr. Parsons in some fifteen years, and far longer in my mind since Project was indispensable. Most lovers of good solid music will have at least one of his first four albums in their collection, while many of us have all (can it really be forty years since ‘Eve’?), but over the years he has moved continents, experimented with different musical style including electronic, but in many ways this is a look back to the soft rock prog style he enamoured us with all those years ago. I really wish he hadn’t started with the instrumental “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, as although it is a fine rendition and Steve Hackett (who is highlighted as guest guitarist for the album but in fact only plays on this) is obviously enjoying himself, but for me this will always be Mickey Mouse and mops carrying buckets. Parsons is using his orchestral arrangement skills here, and it is pleasant but not earth shattering and quite at odds with the rest of the album.
Guitarist Ian Bairnson (who played on all the APP albums) is back working with Alan again, who also brought in the normal revolving door of guests including singers Jason Mraz and Lou Gramm. It would have been interesting to hear Parsons attempt more of his vocals, as the soft rocker “As Lights Fall” on which he features is one of the highlights in a Camel-esque manner. But, the vast majority of the album is middle of the road and pleasant while never being earth-shattering. It is a very long time since I first heard “(The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether”, and I still much prefer that over anything here, but it is a solid release and fans will be pleased he has again released something in a similar vein to the old days.