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Chart Chat Album Review : Black – ‘Blind Faith’ (Released 13th April 2015)

Chart Chat Album Review : Black – ‘Blind Faith’ (Released 12th April 2015)

This week sees the release of ‘Blind Faith’ by Black. Excluding the 2013 repackage of ‘Wonderful Life’ and the 2011 compilation ‘Any Colour You Like’ this marks his first studio release in over five years. He will be remembered by many for his 1987 hit singles ‘Sweetest Smile’ and ‘Wonderful Life’ but fans will know that he has a much richer back catalogue that just those two songs.

Although he has recorded consistently during the intervening years, singer Colin Vearncombe dropped the Black name between 1993 and 2005 having become disillusioned with certain aspects of the music business. This new album came as a result of a Pledge Music campaign which saw Colin interact with fans, who in turn helped to fund the recording process. He was pleasantly surprised with the fans raising more than double than the original target. He is heading out on his longest tour for sometime this April alongside his musical parter Callum MacColl and so hopefully things are looking up for him once more.

Onto this new album, and ‘The Love Show’ opens proceedings, and it is classic Black. Parts of it remind me of Divine Comedy, but then you could argue that it might have been Neil Hannon himself who was influenced by early Black material. In contrast to some of the albums we have reviewed recently this is the longest track and it doesn’t even make it to four minutes. Everything here is finely crafted, but straight to the point too.

‘Don’t Call Me Honey’ is a little more uptempo in the same way that tracks such as ‘I’m Not Afraid’ and ‘Everything Is Coming Up Roses’ were back in 1987. If artists such as Colin still received recognition on the mainstream radio stations then this would have made for a great single. Sadly the musical landscape has shifted and airplay on the radio is now much more aligned to record label marketing budgets and not simply down to what the public might want to listen to.

‘Good Liar’ comes complete with beautiful orchestral backing, and the refrain “I’m a liar when I’m in love” will stick in your mind after the first listen while ‘Sleep Together’ is a more laid back affair. I particularly liked the line “two fools wishing on a long dead star”, and it’s a track I really like.

‘Womanly Panther’ again uses orchestral backing to its advantage, and it conjurs up images of couples performing the tango and other ballroom dances, such is its almost quickstep beat. For me it is one of the standout tracks on the album.

‘Sunflower’ may only last for just over two minutes, but its backdrop of a simple piano against Colin’s vocals works very well. ‘Not The Man’ follows on, picking up the tempo a little “I am not the man you want me to be / I am not the man you want” sings Colin in the chorus, and it’s an immediately catchy track.

‘Ashes Of Angels’ builds slowly from an acoustic start to a catchy chorus while ‘Stone Soup’ is a much slower affair. ‘When It’s Over’ is another highlight, a track which could easily have appeared on his 1988 album ‘Comedy’.

‘Beautiful’ keeps things simple, just Colin and an acoustic guitar, and then the album is brought to a close by ‘Parade’. This is a haunting song, but a fine way to end the album.

The important thing about any music is that it is really down to each individual listener what it means, and how it is interpreted. What I have given is my opinion, and for me I have really enjoyed rediscovering the joys of Black. Colin Vearncombe still sings as he did at the start of his career, and while there is a nod to the past there can be no doubt to the listener that this is a brand new Black album. Making the initial step to partner with Pledge Music was a brave one, but one which paid off and one which I hope he may visit again in the future.

Ian Anderson (@ChartChatUK)

12 April, 2015 - Posted by | ChartChat

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