Simon Kent In

Another Life

(ReprinT Records/Absolute)

When this singer-songwriter first came to our attention a few years back, we made a point of going to see him perform and have a chat with him. There are several influences wove into Kent’s individual style, one of which I thought was the edgy pop melodic roll of early Duran Duran. Simon had and has a way with a tune and to this listener’s ears has a radio-friendly vibe about his better songs. Catchy but still good – and weren’t The Lovin’Spoonful, Air, Crowded House? This time around the lyrics can touch on very personal matters and then again elsewhere maybe streetwise-with-a- conscience might best describe the material.

Never Stop Believing isn’t a Journey song! We are straight into a high range vocal in a spacey backdrop of twinkly piano and slivers of rock guitar. The chorus is strong and melodic. I’d be singing along if I could get there. Than Duran tinge is still lurking in this man’s work. The production is a tad chilly for me, but Kent is not alone in leaning this way. A haunting song and a creditable start to the record.

Spaced Out is pacier and just as cosmic-flavoured. The confidence in delivery is manifest. Maybe the songs have been brewing a while and a certain catharsis informs getting them recorded. Simon plays keys plus some guitar throughout the programme. Some linear sax appears then departs. Airy pop with a backbone. Next up, In Another Life cruises in on harmonics with a desolate tale over an almost-frantic rhythm and urgent drumming albeit with ethereal vocals. Kent claims Depeche Mode as an inspiration and that’s maybe best realised here. Excellent bass cruising along in this one, the only instrument unshackled to the tempo in this effort.

Set Alight brings a welcome change of ambience with a McCartneyesque minimal acoustic piano and melody and vocal pitching to match. In fact the voice is two steps from hymnal. The string pads add piquancy but no warmth. The drumming is steady and unfussy. A Tom Chaplin interlude, really. The lovely ensemble vocal arrangement makes this a highlight and the guitar break appropriate. The song drops back to nothing.

Dreams And Memories is a touch rockier in a Banshees vein. It sounds as though it’s looking for a monochrome film to accompany. The measured vocal sounds terrific on what really cries for a Gary Numan voice. This works well enough as the icy melody rolls. Easily the best track on this set, imho. On to Everything’s Alright and its headswim backdrop and floating lead vocal, again a strong chorus. Hold On loses little time plunging into a Depeche ambience, bass tone up in the mix. Very Duran! I Am Your Friend has an emphatic core melody and stately pacing and would have made a fabulous duet with a female singer aboard, so beguiling is the melody.

Out Of Time is melancholic in sound, solemnity tainting the almost hesitant singing, that Love Songs In Space atmosphere to the fore once more. Closing number Playing With Fire is almost a slow waltz but with polyrhythms champing at the bit in the mix. Haunting but a little underdeveloped in the arrangement, to these ears.

Muscular and melodic pop, marinated in Eighties production elements and an overall cold atmosphere that belies the tenderness of the lyrics..all with zero trace of roots music. I like this more than I probably should and that’s because the core songcraft cannot be denied.

Pete Sargeant



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(Thanks DC)

Simon Kent’s new studio album is released on Friday 4th May 2018 on ReprinT/Absolute.

For tour dates and more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2JdKCMm

Simon Kent