Saga
The Human Condition
27/03/2009
For months, thousands of Saga fans have been asking themselves anxiously: how will the band sound after vocalist Michael Sadler’s departure? Before going into any more detail, let’s answer the big question: on their latest album, "The Human Condition", Saga still sound unmistakably like Saga but with a big dash freshness. The essential elements of the sound which the band has continuously developed over decades, their rocking attitude, haunting melodies, virtuoso solo passages and intelligent arrangements, haven’t changed one bit in 2009. And what is more: the band members, Ian Crichton (guitar), Jim Crichton (bass, keyboards) and Jim Gilmour (keyboards) have used the recent line-up change for an artistic evolution of their expressive means. To cut a long story short: "The Human Condition" is 100% Saga, and much more. Or, as Ian Crichton comments: “It’s still us, of course with a different twist, some of the ideas on the CD are more prog than before.”

Let’s travel back in time: autumn 2007 saw founder member Michael Sadler leave the band to set off to pastures new. No farewell in anger, no personal or musical differences – as we have frequently seen in other bands –, but an extremely amicable separation from a musician who is looking for new challenges, privately as well as artistically. For the remaining musicians, Sadler’s departure never called into question the group’s existence. Saga immediately started a global search for a new frontman and struck lucky in January 2008 when they came across Rob Moratti, until that time vocalist with the Canadian act, Final Frontier. Crichton explains: “We found Rob after searching for a singer for a year. As it ended up, Rob is from Toronto. There were international singers, too, but Rob was it. Rob’s voice is different than Michael’s, but he cuts the older tunes really great. On the new CD you must check him out in full Saga stereo!! He’s awesome!”

With Moratti as their new band member, Saga got together on December 8th 2008 in Orillia, Ontario, Canada, and arranged the material they had been individually writing for six months. "The Human Condition" was produced by Saga and mixed by Pat Regan at the Sound Image studios in Van Nuys, California, in February 2009. The result is a spirited recording with nine versatile numbers which – as Crichton already stressed – redefine the borderline between rock music and progressive attitudes. "The Human Condition" features vocal melodies consisting of several voices, Crichton’s unmistakable staccato guitars and sweeping solo passages which extend into the spheres of fusion and jazz. Ian Crichton: “We’re proud of all of them, we like all the tracks on this record, it sounds really refreshing and new.”

Naturally Saga have come up with another exciting subject to give their songs a central theme. However, this time Ian Crichton’s aim was to direct the listeners’ fantasy and attention to the lyrics, which is why he won’t dissect the story behind "The Human Condition". Asked whether Saga’s latest offering is a concept album, he answers succinctly: “Yes it is. We always pick a topic when forming a record, before anything is written. 'The Human Condition' explains itself.”

So The Human Condition substantiates the good news about Saga’s unaltered sound: they are continuing their great career and are set to present many more examples of their great creative power. “Our hope is that people like the new Saga album as much as we do,” comments Ian Crichton, “there’s so much music still to create, world touring, more records.”