Steve Hackett, “The Wheel’s Turning” from Wolflight (2015): One Track Mind

In talking about his first new solo album since 2011, Steve Hackett has described Wolflight as a journey — through both outer and inner space. “This Wheel’s Turning” is a ride far more visceral, tangibly thrilling.

He sets a stage of carnival wonder, filled with surprising lights and shocking sounds, all of it providing a psychedelic landscape from which to hurtle up, up, ever up. By the time his narrative roller coaster reaches its apex, Steve Hackett has taken up his guitar — and the next full minute of “This Wheel’s Turning” becomes a rush of emotion marked by a dark and skillful solo, turbulent entanglements with orchestra and keyboard, and the very real sense of confusion, danger and joy that accompanies these rides back toward gravity’s embrace.

When Steve Hackett returns to the original lyric, it feels almost translucent in its beauty, as simple and welcoming as putting your foot back on the ground as all of that adrenaline drains away. A second burst of guitar — this time more anthemic, more hope-filled, guides you home, as “This Wheel’s Turning” fades.

It’s a remarkable introduction to the forthcoming Wolflight, due on March 30, 2015 via InsideOut Music, one that reminds you in a matter of a few rousing moments why Steve Hackett felt compelled to leave the easy comfort of a huge band in Genesis to strike out on his own.

The guitarist has, of course, spent much of his recent time immersed in that period, producing the well-received Genesis Revisited II and a pair of live releases even as he toured those 1970s-era favorites around the world. Two things can happen after such a lengthy period of reminiscence: An artist can find himself pining for something retrograde, indulging a tendency to return to the same past glories for inspiration when it comes time to create. Or, he can be born anew, bolstered by past successes into trying to fashion something new — something to add to that legacy.

With “This Wheel’s Turning,” Steve Hackett has shown he falls squarely into the latter category.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso