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Music Review: Saga: 20/20 (Ear Music, CD)

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Saga 20/20 CD

Saga may not be well-known in the states, but the Canadian band has been going since 1977, and its 35th anniversary sees the band delivering a new studio CD that represents a significant reunion in its history.

2012 release 20/20 finds the group back together with Michael Sadler, the lead singer on its best-known material from the 1980s (including 1982 MTV hit “On the Loose”). Sadler left the band in 2008 and was replaced by singer Rob Moratti for one CD, The Human Condition—which was excellent—but it’s great to have Sadler back in place to revive Saga’s classic sound.

While The Human Condition found the band exploring more adventurous, modern sounds and styles—crazy time signatures, athletic playing, that kind of thing—20/20 is a welcome throwback to Saga’s 1980s and 1990s masterworks such as Heads or Tails and Generation 13. Tracks like “Anywhere You Wanna Go”, with its old-school synth textures, is a wonderful throwback to the MTV days, and songs like “Till the Well Runs Dry” and especially the gorgeous power ballad “Lost For Words” are heavily reminiscent of classic-era Styx, complete with Sadler’s Dennis DeYoung-like vocals.

Sadler’s return is welcome—he really fits with this band, and his presence has inspired the band to write and record 10 excellent new songs. Sonically, the production on this record is as reminiscent of the band’s classic era as the material is. All good. There’s plenty of talent to go ’round in this band in addition to the lead singer—guitarist Ian Crichton is a clear standout with his skilled, assured lead lines and power chords. And even if this CD doesn’t emphasize the prog as much as The Human Condition did, there’s still plenty of acrobatic musicianship on display here. These pros can play.

Fans of solid melodic rock with some progressive elements will find plenty to love in Saga’s 20/20 album. If they continue to produce albums as strong as this one, here’s hoping Sadler and co. stay together for another 35 years.

Buy Saga’s 20/20 on Amazon
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