fri 19/10/2018

CD: Dexys - One Day I'm Going To Soar | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Dexys - One Day I'm Going To Soar

CD: Dexys - One Day I'm Going To Soar

Kevin Rowland's crew make a welcome return after 27 years, but something is missing

'One Day I'm Going To Soar': an extended aria of self-loathing

Bob Dylan talked, after his 1966 motorcycle crash, about having to learn to do consciously what he once did instinctively. That quote kept popping into my head as I listened to One Day I’m Going to Soar, the fourth Dexys album and their first for 27 years. On the surface everything seems to be in its right place: the vigorous horns, the virile fiddles. Old hands “Big” Jim Paterson, Mick Talbot and Pete Williams are back on board, aiding and abetting Kevin Rowland’s eccentric yelp, rambling monologues, wry humour and lacerating self-doubt. But somehow it doesn't quite add up.

The primary problem is the music, which generally fails to match the aspiration flaunted in the title. All the passion and fervour of old has – perhaps inevitably; half a life time has passed, after all – congealed into ersatz supper club soul. “I’m Always Going to Love You” sounds like The Real Thing. The too-loud drums are too often a crude thump. Opener “Now” – “attack the track” – is like a parody of Dexys' former fiery manifestos; "Me” settles for Style Council-lite. I've no idea if Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs is still limping along on Radio Two but, musically, few tracks here would sound out of place on it.

What just about saves the album is a handful of truly fine songs and, above all, Rowland’s words, which add up to a quite remarkable extended aria of self-loathing. One Day I’m Going to Soar has a plot, and it doesn’t so much thicken as curdle. It begins with the singer reflecting on his errant past before mooning over a fantasy woman who suddenly appears in real life. He woos her, wins her, then walks away, because “I don't know how to love".

Co-vocalist Madeleine Hyland plays the dream woman scorned, entering half way through to shower the proceedings - quite entertainingly - in am-dram theatrics. Her bruising encounters with Rowland are supposed to be epic centrepieces à la “Until I Believe to my Soul” or “This is What She’s Like”, but they don’t deliver on that level. The closing “It’s OK, John Joe”, a genuinely moving spoken word note-to-self, is the one truly great Dexys song here, well worthy of taking its place alongside past glories. A few others (the cool, spare “You”; "Free"'s breezy declaration of independence; the funny-sad soul snap of “Nowhere is Home”) run it close, but all the goodwill in the world stored up for Rowland’s return can’t turn this into a classic album. There is no one quite like him and it’s a fine thing to hear that voice and maverick sensibility again. But soaring? No. 

Watch Dexys perform "Free" on Jools Holland


There is a plot, and it doesn’t so much thicken as curdle

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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