Record Label: Private Press
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 15th July 2022
62 mins

Fearful Symmetry – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube

Rating 90/100

The quality of the music on this album is so good, so wonderfully assembled and confidently delivered that when faced with the chosen title i.e.; ‘The Difficult Second, ’it could be considered to be a trite disservice to the band. It could, for example, have been dubbed “Ten ‘Shotts’ to the boundary,” which would, no doubt, stump those not familiar with the sound of leather upon willow, but would be just as zany. But in terms of utter compositional class and instrumental prowess, ‘Suzi James is an extremely competent musician who has created a very memorable album, more so,  bearing in mind, that apart from  Suzie’s pedigree as a session guitarist, she has only recently retired from a demanding commercially related job where music was not exactly at the forefront of her ambitions. Fearful Symmetry’s first album was very much a joint project between her and her cousin Jeremy and although he decided to take a back seat for the ‘Difficult Second’ he contributed greatly, not only providing valuable lyrical assistance but, in a sense,  providing the means to do so in the shape of his talented vocalist daughter Yael Shotts.

From a music perspective, the ‘Difficult Second’ combines a very varied programme of different styles not only in genera but in the diverseness of guitar manipulations and the resultant fashioned sounds. In fact, such harmonious delights contained within could be construed as a preverbal ‘world tour’ of different musical sounds and guitar styles. Not only has Suzi captured, on this album, a wide array of different genres but she has projected and extended the rhythmical feel of the harmonic segments ingeniously to include additional layered tuneful inserts.  In other words, alternating the ‘Rondo form’ of the various musical segments.

But that is not all, Suzi shows her absolute class as a dexterous multi-instrumentalist handling all the tuneful bass lines and the extensive keyboard fills and layers adding colour and texture to the proceedings. The piano contributions too, are all beautifully administered and every bit as important as the guitar breaks. Her flair for compositional aptitude is well demonstrated on this album with ten well-worked interesting tracks covering a huge variety of different styles, moods, time changes and harmonious angles.

What an addition to the band is vocalist Yael, she has such purity of tone and a wonderful delicacy of intonation, a classically trained voice, no doubt. A magnificent asset for sure and a preverbal cherry on the top to elevate the band’s sound to a level of utter perfection. The drumming from ‘Sharon Petrover’ is quite perfect in every respect despite the difficulty of his achieving such high standards when playing remotely.

Summary: A really nice well considered album that has been beautifully assembled and lovingly put together. My two favourite tracks being

1, Mood Swings and Roundabouts – A complex homage to UK Prog Band ‘Yes’

  1. Love of My Life –An oh-so-beautiful love song, lovely very special words


01. Mood Swings and Roundabouts (5:59)
02. The Difficult Second (3:56)
03. Light of My Life (5:39)
04. Shifting Sands (4:07)
05. Eastern Eyes (5:14)
06. The Song of the Siren (4:57)
07. Hope (5:36)
08. Sandworm (6:37)
09. Shukraan Jazilaan (3:23)
10. Warlords (14:49)
– I. Overture
– II. Stepping Out
– III. Warlords
– IV. Battlestorm
– V. Aftermath

Total Time – 60:17

Suzi James – Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Mandolin, Multi-Oud, e-Violin, Percussion, Darbuka, Riq, Penny Whistle, Backing Vocals
~ with:
Yael Shotts – Vocals
Sharon Petrover – Drums