April 22, 2019 Alan Parsons – The Secret (Album Review)
One of the greatest musical projects in the Progressive Rock world is the group formed in 1975 by Alan Parsons (keyboards, guitar) with Eric Woolfson (piano, keyboards, vocals)—Alan Parsons Project. In their decades-long partnership, the duo has released twelve studio albums, from 1976’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination to 2014’s comeback offering The Sicilian Defence, from which a number of hit singles were culled, such as the ballads “Time” and “Eye in the Sky.”
When the duo broke up in 1993, Parsons—born on December 20, 1948, in London, England—embarked on a solo career, releasing his first oeuvre, Try Anything Once, in the same year. Two albums more followed in the rest of the decade—1996’s On Air and 1999’s The Time Machine—and one in the ensuing—2004’s A Valid Path, until he returned to producing works by other artists. Now, 15 years after his last lone effort, Parsons returns with a new album!
Scheduled to be released on Friday, April 26, 2019, via Frontiers Music s.r.l. , Parsons’ fifth—titled The Secret—is certainly a brilliant piece of Progressive Pop/Rock mantle. Consisting of eleven tracks, it begins with the slow buildup of the cinematic dramatics of the Cirque du Soleil–inspired instrumental “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” and then followed by “Miracle,” featuring Jason Mraz on vocals; and “As Light Falls,” which will transport the listener to a special place called nostalgia as both heartrending ballads hark to the style and sentiments of many of Parsons’ works with his group in the 1980s.
Shifting the gear higher, with Todd Cooper on lead vocals, the heavily orchestrated “One Note Symphony” proves that Parsons’ Progressive sensibilities have remained intact after all these years. Then there is the piano-led “Sometimes;” this time a trek to Gospel balladry with iconic Foreigner Singer Lou Gramm on lead vocals. Another slew of slow love songs play next—the loungy, rustic, and pub-jukebox- worthy “Soirée Fantastique,” the McCartney-esque “Fly to Me” with Mark Mikel on vocals, and the light-jazzy Power track “Requiem.”
Bringing in PJ Olsson to sing, “Beyond the Years of Glory” is another display of Parsons’ propensity for orchestration; it will fit well onto a playlist that includes other orchestral Progressive ballads such as Styx’s “Come Sail Away,” Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” and Journey’s “Faithfully.” The penultimate track, “The Limelight Fades Away” is midtempo Pop Rock, signaling the end of this cohesive batch of new songs by Parsons. Featured in the 2017 film 5-25-77, Parsons wraps up The Secret aptly with the mellow and smooth sway of yet another Gospel-inspired song, “I Can’t Get There from Here.”
Among the artists who were able to pursue productive solo careers after stints with their equally successful groups, Parsons is one of the most memorable and enduring. He belongs there in the pantheon that included the likes of Steve Perry (Journey), Dennis DeYoung (Styx), and Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree). The Secret is definitely another unmissable addition to Parsons’ musical works. That is why Cryptic Rock gives The Secret 4 out of 5 stars.