Sound — 8
Ian Anderson initially gained fame as the frontman, vocalist and flutist for the band, Jethro Tull, but over the years added more and more instruments to his arsenal, making him a multi-instrumentalist with everything from acoustic guitar, bass guitar, and keyboard to the flute, various whistles, balalaika, and saxophone. "Homo Erraticus" will be Ian Anderson's seventh full-length solo studio release. There are fifteen tracks on the album, which clocks in at approximately 51 minutes. The album is a concept album which tells the story of Gerald Bostock, who was originally introduced in the Jethro Tull album, "Thick as a Brick," and then continued with Ian Anderson's previous album "Thick as a Brick 2."
The album opens up with the track "Doggerland," which opens up with a flute and distorted guitar playing a melody together. The song grows to include various strings, an organ, and a keyboard. "Heavy Metals" opens up with what sounds like a mandolin or dulcimer - with the vocals and a (guitar?) harmonizing lines on the melody. "Enter the Uninvited" opens with guitar and keyboard but opens up pretty quick to include flute and drums and some interesting lyrics that start out like some kind of word association/ stream of consciousness thing. "Puer Ferox Adventus" opens up with chanting and thunder - some really metal stuff - and Ian sings his vocals over this backing until the chanting and thunder phase out and drums and organ take over and other instruments come in during the track. The track also has some of my favorite guitar work from the whole album. The track "Meliora Sequamur" opens up with an organ and acoustic guitar - some of the vocals on this track are like choir vocals. "The Turnpike Inn" opens up with some distorted guitar, flute and drums and reminds me a lot of "Locomotive Breath" from back in Jethro Tull's heyday. "The Engineer" is another song that starts out kind of heavier with electric guitar and drums with the flute, and then what sounds like an accordion comes in on the track. The track "The Pax Britannica" really comes across a lot like a minstrel type of song, but with much fuller instrumentation, with the bass guitar being much more prominent than on a lot of tracks from the album. "Tripudium Ad Bellum" uses flute and muted distorted guitars to create a mood at the beginning of the track, and then takes that mood in some interesting directions. "After These Wars" is primarily flute, piano and percussion with a strong vocal contribution from Ian Anderson. "New Blood, Old Veins" opens up with a cool groove on bass and the track sounds like funk music mixed in equal parts with folk music, but it somehow works together. It also has one of the cooler flute solos from the album. "In for a Pound" is another song that sounds very much like something you might hear at a renaissance fair. "The Browning of the Green" is a change of direction from the last song, sounding more like a lot of Jethro Tull's material from the '70s era. "Per Errationes Ad Astra" is mainly a crazy monologue that seems to be about not worrying about mankind messing up space because our race is self-destructing too fast to have time to cause much more damage. The album closes out with an intense track titled "Cold Dead Reckoning" is mainly carried by drums, distorted guitar and flute and drives home the point made by the monologue from the previous track.
Lyrics — 9
Ian Anderson's voice has grown in a certain direction and on this album is used in a certain way where it is mostly like the quintessential "minstrel" type of vocal. It is really an ideal type of vocal for progressive rock of this nature, especially with the strong folk elements. The lyrics on the album get pretty dark. As a sample of the lyrics from the album, here are some from the closing track, "Cold Dead Reckoning": "I don't mean to be a misery but/ I have to tell you straight/ there are zombies in the closet and/ they're not prepared to wait/ we are the tribe that eats itself and/ spits out not a morsel thing/ and navigates this desert by/ our cold dead reckoning/ does anybody have the charts/ coordinates or maps? / a throw of dice, a toss of coin decides/ what Mrs. Luck might bring/ as we navigate this desert by our/ cold dead reckoning/ turmoil, tempest, tall tsunami/ haven't we heard it all before/ await the beast to join the feast/ this party is an open door/ all are welcome, all are joined in/ penitence, if it please the King/ while we navigate this desert by/ our cold dead reckoning."
Overall Impression — 8
I don't know the story with albums being released as solo Ian Anderson albums instead of under the Jethro Tull name, as Jethro Tull is technically still together, but I guess because Ian Anderson's solo efforts do have a dash more folk in them than a lot of Jethro Tull's music. Regardless, my favorite tracks from the album would probably be "Enter the Uninvitedm," "Puer Ferox Adventus," "The Browning of the Green," and "Cold Dead Reckoning." Actually, I'm impressed with this album whether you want to look at it as an Ian Anderson solo album, or a mislabeled Jethro Tull release. It is what you should get in a progressive rock concept album - a listening experience instead of a loosely connected collection of songs.