Steve Hackett - Under A Mediterranean Sky

Some of us have handled the longueurs of this virus better than others. Not that he's exactly a slouch at the best of times, but the ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett has put his enforced year off the road to particularly stirring use with his new album Under a Mediterranean Sky. As the name implies, this is music, for the most part acoustic, that brings a welcome touch of the sun-kissed to our seemingly interminable winter months. Hackett is widely considered something of a master of this genre (if you doubt that, listen to his solo piece 'Horizons' off the bygone Genesis LP Foxtrot), and the eleven tracks here uniformly lie in the sweet spot where the sensitive solo instrumentalist meets the perpetrator of some of the most thrilling prog rock of the past half-century.

In short, this is music that's laid-back enough to make you want to slip into a hot tub with a glass of wine to listen to it, but also catchy enough to suggest that if you don't - at the very least - check out the rollicking flamenco guitar of 'Andalusian Heart', the richly atmospheric 'Joie de Vivre', where you can almost taste the red wine and brie, and the transcendent 'The Dervish and the Djin', with its haunting swirl of Turkish lute, then you're missing out on one of this year's unexpected treats. This is music that is both mournful and euphoric, and further cements Steve Hackett's place among us as a true national treasure.