The delicate density of Saga’s better material doesn’t automatically lend itself to an acoustic shakedown, but 43 years after their self-titled debut the band are still discreetly pushing boundaries.
Rather than simply strip some of their extensive catalogue (and three new instrumental fillers that needn’t detain us) down to the absolute basics, they’ve embarked on a more considered programme of reinterpretation and rebuilding, with the assistance of a string section.
Thus, Pitchman swaps its guitar squall section for cascading Morning Has Broken-style piano, a fierce cello interlude and subtle harmony vocals. Similarly, Tired World keeps its piano introduction and recurring earworm melody, but where there was once a simple but extended guitar riff there’s now a whole new level of dramatic tension.
Like everything on Symmetry, it’s the same but different. What in lesser, less-thoughtful hands could have been an anaemic re-treading is now – acoustic or not – more intriguingly complex.