Released: 24th September
Roxy Music, Squeeze, Mike + The Mechanics, the Eagles – just a few names bursting out of Paul Carrack’s CV. It’s a CV you look at and feel pretty envious about. I mean, how can you not feel a pang of jealousy when the guy’s got his name on more projects than you’ve had cooked dinners? He’s even featured on The Smiths’ debut album, played the organ on Elton John’s Made in England and The Big Picture, and toured with Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band. My green-eyed guts are nearly falling out of my mouth.
You can’t diss the guy for being successful, though. He’s not one of these people who’s had fame handed to him on a plate, much like the sad scene that shows like the X-Factor represent. Carrack has had to work to accomplish what he has, and more often that not, that’s the best way to achieve longevity. On your way up, you’ll make contacts and meet fellow aspiring musicians who – with a bit of luck – could help you out in the future, or vice-versa, whether it be guesting on recorded material, playing in some sessions or even forming a band together. Whether these musicians be from the gutter, or playing sold-out shows every night, they’re all added to your address book and as we all know, contacts are invaluable. You never know when you’ll need them.
Carrack’s first main starting point was in the 70’s with the band Warm Dust, who broke up, and then he went on to help found the pub rock band Ace. 77 saw Ace split and Carrack became a session musician for Roxy Music, but only featured as a ‘real’ member of the band on the 79 reunion album, Manifesto. From there, he went solo but then joined Squeeze as keyboardist and a long-term replacement for Jools Holland. Not long after that, though, in 82, Carrack had left the band and had a few more projects (but not to the magnitude of previous projects) before again, going solo.
However, it was during this time (85 to be exact) that Carrack was asked to join Mike + The Mechanics, where Carrack sang lead vocals on their hit ‘Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)’. The band also had a UK number two and a US number one hit with ‘The Living Years’. He also released 4 studio albums in the 80’s – the most successful being ‘One Good Reason.’
So, into the 90’s, and although his solo career was in abeyance for a few years, he still managed to maintain work as a session musician. He played in the groundbreaking live stage show of The Wall Live In Berlin in 1990, was part of a band called Spin 1ne 2wo and also returned to Squeeze for a bit and was also part of the Eagles for an ultimately unrealised and too ambitious project. The 90’s were pretty busy for Carrack, and in 1996, he finally decided to return solo, apart from serving as lead vocalist for Mike + The Mechanics in the 00’s after the untimely and unfortunate death of Paul Young. He released 2 albums in the 90’s, the most successful being ‘Blue Views.’
Anyway, enough of what he’s done in the past. Let’s focus on now, the present, here; his 12th solo studio album, Good Feeling.
In true Carrack style, the first track, Good Feelin’ About It, has a summery, romantic, positive vibe. The light synth, accompanied by the horns – which step in and out of the track as if they’re stepping over puddles – makes for a real party feel. Carrack’s accessible and soothing lyrics of I’ve got a good feelin’ about it will have you singing or humming along and the track really does makes you have a good feeling about the rest of the album.
Long Ago has a gorgeous, slow-paced, candlelit piano that measures and structures the whole track. Carrack’s vocals of standing by the window / dressed in silence / with memories that echo through my mind are relatable to everyone and this is the track’s pivotal strength – everyone can relate to it and listen to it. It’s almost impossible to dislike the track, even if you’re a proper dubstep head you’ll find your foot tapping to this. It’s a track that could easily be used in some romantic scene in a film, you know the kind of scene: guy breaks up with girl, guy shags around, realises he loved the woman he broke up with, fights to get her back etc etc. That sorta stuff.
From Now On conjures images of smoke-filled, whisky-drenched jazz bars. Carrack is on stage, behind the keys, serenading the crowd while his band plays behind him, each musician lost in the mystery and truth of their instrument. The swaying guitar and pattering drums usher the crowd up to the floor, while the keys urge couples to hold each other in their arms and savour the romanticized tones of the instruments. Possibly the strongest track on offer.
The album ends on A Child Is Born and it’s quite hard to think why Carrack chose this as a final track. It’s not so much that it’s a bad song – it isn’t – but it’s quite cheap and even seems a bit forced. At times it’s almost awkward to listen to the track, especially if you’re not really into the celebrating-every-birth-of-every-child thing that seems to plague everyone as they age. Right now, for me, the track is the weakest on offer and has direct connotations of religion, which really doesn’t appeal to me. However, the track could connect with others because, as I’ve said, it isn’t a bad track and the gentle and drawing-to-a-close feel the track has does work. It’s just the lyrics that are a major downfall for me. Here he lies / trusted and warm / blessed this morn a child is born – is an example. Hello, Virgin Mary?
Overall, this is a very accessible album that can be listened to at any occasion. It especially works well for a hangover. Soothes it away. The ending may not be as strong as the start but that’s a minor flaw; it may be his most successful solo material to date.