Review: Steve Hogarth and Richard Barbieri – Not the Weapon But the Hand

Label: KScope
Released: February 27, 2012

Steve Hogarth and Richard Barbieri - Not the Weapon But the Hand

Anyone familiar with Steve Hogarth’s or Richard Barbieri’s work would assume not to expect a standard, run-of-the-mill album. That assumption proves correct here. Not the Weapon But the Hand feels more like a soundtrack than a regular album and that accounts simultaneously for its strengths and weaknesses. “Red Kite” is certainly a subtle opener, but perhaps too much so as its highs and lows are smoothed out to the point of being placid. However, the album progresses in terms of its success in finding the common ground between subtlety and accessibility. As the album approaches the midpoint, it really hits stride. Dissonance cuts through the ambient nature of “Naked,” yet the song is more focused. “Crack” has the vaguest sense of blues that grounds it which contrasts well with the questionable light jazz dabblings of the opening track. The backstretch of the album does find bits of Wall-era Floyd as well as 80s Peter Gabriel, but just before closing, on “Lifting the Lid,” it falls back into the same listless, overly understated trap. In a sense, it is shame as the album had been moving toward more solid ground, but at the same time, it finds some closure in returning from whence it came. Likewise, while the closer, the album’s title track, is not something that works on its own, it does finish out the album with a sense of dark poetry. With a few exceptions, Not the Weapon But the Hand is not full of songs that stand on their own and find their way into playlists mixed in amongst other artists and works. It is however, a cohesive work, albeit one whose underlying emotion is at times difficult to discern.

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