Steven Wilson – To The Bone
Even though The Raven That Refused To Sing came close, none of Steven Wilson’s solo work has been on the same level as his work in Porcupine Tree. There have been a few standout tracks such as ‘Drive Home’ and ‘Routine’, but for the most part there has been something missing. With To The Bone, Wilson decided to step away from album orientated prog in favour of focussing on individual songs… at least, that’s what he said the plan was. Inadvertently he’s somehow made his most cohesive solo album without even meaning to. His last record Hand. Cannot. Erase. was a story driven concept album wherein the story was all but not existent in the songs, yet here the songs are far more potent, driven and thematic. There are two different themes at play here. The first, being the life and death of a relationship; from the joys of love (‘Permanating’), obsession (‘Song of I’) and finally dealing with the break-up (‘Pariah’,’Blank Tapes’).
Alongside the more personal songs, you get some of Wilson’s most politically motivated work. ‘The Same Asylum As Before’ talks about lying politicians, while ‘Refuge’ speaks from the point of view of a refugee and stands as one of the most powerful tracks he has ever written. The poignant lyrics, alongside the emotive drum fills, bluesy harmonica and stunning guitar solo, make it the clear album highlight. The dark and twisted ‘People Who Eat Darkness’ however is the record’s most striking offering. Written from the viewpoint of a plotting terrorist and how the most unassuming of characters can hide a terrible secret, it’s the boldest lyrical statement I’ve heard in a while and musically bears a close resemblance to Porcupine Tree. Though it’s hard to get over the irony that he’s made his best concept album by mistake, the increased focus on individual songwriting has vastly improved the record as a whole and makes it easily his best solo work to date.