What does it sound like?:
Further to the release of the Space Summit single “I’m Electric” in the summer of 2021, notoriously work-shy* fop Marty Willson-Piper has put the finishing touches to his collaboration with Jed Bonniwell and a cast of his most talented friends and delivered the accompanying album, entitled ‘Life This Way’.
The lead-off track, “I’m Electric” was covered in my last review, and having checked back, nothing has changed my opinion in the interim. It’s a glorious sounding** track, stitched beautifully together so that the joins between recording locales Penzance, Minneapolis, Borneo, Bristol, Lisbon and Stockholm are so invisible that you’d never know unless I’d just pointed them out.
Title track “Life This Way” follows smartly up, and MWP’s fingerprints inevitably become more easily identified over a track which floats somewhere between the more composed moments of mid-period The Church, and the sort of choruses that nu-Marillion write when they’re trying to get radio play. From thence on, it’s a familiar furrow being ploughed – some beautifully phrased guitar parts warmly comforting a series of songs that no fan of the Under the Milky Way hitmakers is going to be taken aback by at any stage. Bonniwell’s vocals settle into a familiar groove, and although he’s never in danger of shattering any wine glasses with his spectacular operatic range, his warm, chocolatey tones are exactly what the tunes require.
Except! Third track in, “Queen Elizabeth’s Keys” is quite the most superbly written, timeless, classic pop song I’ve heard anybody sing since Farah called it a day***. That they (Farah) routinely supplied the more intelligent numbers on demand for a string of artists desperate in case their A&R people stopped returning their calls gives you some idea how marvellous this track is. It’s simply too good to bother the chart compilers in this day and age, and might comfortably have sat on Prefab Sprout’s ‘Crimson/Red’, in case you don’t know who Farah are but have heard of Paddy McAloon. Luckily, it’s on YouTube, so you can all go and take a look before agreeing with me. That’s how this place works, right?
*He’s got three more full-length collaborations coming out this year alone, and claims to have fifteen songs ready to go for the follow-up to this one.
**Subs – please work in the term ‘Sonic Cathedrals’ somewhere around here.
***Ed – please check.
What does it all *mean*?
At one point a lyric in “Dome of Light” refers to disconnecting the phone. Get with the program, Grandad! It’s all mute and ghost these days…
Goes well with…
Ironing, whilst ensuring that you don’t spill red wine over your son’s school uniform.
Might suit people who like…
The Church, MOAT, Marillion.