Exposé Online banner

Curved Air — North Star
(Curved Air Records CRVE002, 2014, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-05-02

North Star Cover art

Who would have thought that a band that’s been around since 1970, gone through numerous personnel changes (with every album), breakups, reconfigurations and reunions, would come back with an album 44 years after their debut that is arguably the strongest studio album of their career? North Star features pretty much the same lineup that played on the Live Atmosphere album a couple years ago, with the exception of guitarist Kirby Gregory (who played with the band on their Air Cut LP) replacing the exiting Kit Morgan. Original members include singer Sonja Kristina (it wouldn’t be Curved Air without her!) and drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa, and rounding out the band are violinist Paul Sax, Chris Harris on bass, and Robert Norton on keyboards. The fourteen cuts are split evenly between seven brand new songs, the remainder being re-interpretations of earlier material and a few select cover tunes, noteworthy among the latter is album closer “Across the Universe” originally from The Beatles swansong Let It Be, and a re-envisioned version of The Police’s “Spirits in the Material World” – in both cases Curved Air makes these songs their own. The disc launches on fire with “Stay Human” and “Time Games,” two exceptionally solid new tunes that bring out the best in everybody in the band, unmistakably Curved Air from the very first note. This is followed by a more folky and gentle version of “Puppets,” the side one closer from Second Album. Four more new original songs follow, none short of excellent, then we are re-introduced to “Colder Than a Rose in Snow,” a reworking of a tune from Kristina’s eponymous 1980 solo album. Also noteworthy among the remaining cuts is a reworking of “Situations” (from the Airconditioning LP) that presents the tune in an entirely new light, perhaps topping the original version. Curved Air have always had a unique sound among progressive rock bands, comparable to no others, driven by Sonja’s voice and the ever-present violin, and that is maintained throughout North Star. Without reservation, I believe this may be the band’s strongest studio effort to date, or at least on par with the first two albums.


Filed under: New releases, 2014 releases

Related artist(s): Curved Air, Sonja Kristina Linwood

Latest news

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Procosmian Fannyfiddlers - Requiem Fatigue – Sweet voices and guitars start off the Procosmian Fannyfiddlers eighth CD, Requiem Fatigue. The band calls their style burlesque progressive rock, and that's pretty accurate. The tales told here are...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues