This Dexys is a pared down outfit and production is crude in the best possible way.
It took Dexys Midnight Runners' frontman Kevin Rowland 27 years to release a follow-up to 1985's Don't Stand Me Down. In that same period, fellow Dexy Mick Talbot managed to fit in the entire lifespan of The Style Council, record albums as Talbot/White (with Steve White), form the jazz/funk outfit The Players, join Galliano and also tour with Gene, Young Disciples and Candi Staton.
One Day I'm Going To Soar finds Rowland and Talbot reunited (minus the Midnight Runners part of the band name) with other Dexys originals Jim Paterson and Pete Williams. This Dexys is a pared down outfit and production is crude in the best possible way. Every track sounds ready to be performed at the local, round the piano with just a few mates jamming occasionally on fiddle, sax and harp (always carry one with you to the pub, just in case...).
The songs gathered here conjure up images of a tortured three decades for Rowland. It's not just the lyrics that reveal pain, although Rowland plaintively repeating the refrain "I am so lost" (Lost) or crooning "They take the piss out of me" (Me) pretty much drives the point deep into your ribs. But Rowland's voice itself exists in the key of melancholy. There's a lived-in husk that the hits of yesteryear only slightly hinted at - back then when he paid homage to soul heroes like Geno (Washington).
Musical theatre actor Madeleine Hyland makes a striking contrast to Rowland when the pair duet/duel throughout the album. But it all makes perfect sense when they sing it out on the year's most aggressive love/break-up song I'm Always Going To Love You.
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The album trips through folksy-jigs, barroom rhythm and blues, Prefab Sproutish story-telling pop, funk-tinged blues and '40s piano singalongs. But the musical arrangements all take shelter behind Rowland's voice and stories. Album highlight Nowhere Is Home is a heart-breaking tale of displacement ("I can't be a fucking stereotype, but it's lonely being here and living this fight") as Rowland's will-he-hit-the-note vocal shifts from lilt to angry rap to soaring highs with a natural ease that is almost frightening.