Reviewer: Steven Reid
Already known for his time with jazz and fusion outfits Crystal and Giant Shadows, keyboard player Bill Cornish has gathered together an album's worth of material that didn't fit with his other outfits, and fashioned the band Reason's Edge. Soliloquy is the act's debut, Cornish heading down a slightly rockier path than he's been known for in recent times, a west coast meeting a poppy, jazz-rock meld, the results. Cornish also adds vocals, his enthusiastic efforts, while never going to go down in history as a classic performance, certainly conveying the vivacious approach of the music.
Also credited with keyboards and programming, there's no doubt this album is Cornish's baby and yet the collection of drummers and percussionists that bring their undoubted talents are a huge reason for the success of Soliloquy. Between them Ike Turner drummer Billy Ray, Will Jones and Ron Wikso play on half of the ten tracks presented, while percussionist Javier Perez brings his magic touch to "Voices". Credit however must also go to Cornish for his programming, for while his drummers do him proud, the natural sounding beats elsewhere on the album are thoroughly convincing and engaging. "Changes" especially drawing you in with its popping snare and interesting dynamics. Although the same can be said for the song itself, the album's protagonist utilising strings, sitar and all other manner of effects to get his smooth message across. It's a feature oft repeated, the funky thrum of "Snake Oil" a shimmering stab of horns (courtesy of Jon Attel on sax), while Mike Hackbert brings a trumpet sheen to the enigmatic echo of "Voices".
The mood ebbs from upbeat good times, to introspective grooves, hints of Latin flavours and jazz sprinkled throughout, although with the piercing guitar and piano sounds of "Reflections", Cornish can also do uplifting introspection. Lyrically, "Angry Man", which opens with some instantly recognisable voices from current world events, sums Soliloquy up well, an extremely sideways, if still insightful, look at the world we live in the order of the day. Although the 'message' at no point makes any effort to overshadow the musical structures expertly laid out.
Sitting somewhere between the more jazz fuelled side of Toto and the less obtuse output of Steely Dan, Reason's Edge proves to be a hugely engaging, and gently challenging prospect. That it's also an accessible and memorable journey is where Soliloquy really wins out, an instantly eye catching set of songs constructed in such a way that little nuances and subtleties are revealed with every subsequent re-listen. Oh and I should also mention that Cornish's keyboard work is superb throughout, his deftness of touch equaled, when the need arises, by his exuberant attack. Allowing this excellent side-project to really shine. Maybe there's a chance Reason's Edge will become Cornish's main focus? We can only hope!