Former Stone Rose and Seahorse's excellent debut
As a ’90s Zeus of riffs, John Squire needed to come up with something bold and firey after the slide from grace that was late phase dischordant Stone Roses and any phase Seahorses. For two years he has been clositered in his Peak District house, working at first with Verve bassist Simon Jones. Seasons’s turned, Jones left and nothing emerged. Doubts were (again) cast over the health of Squire‘s muse.
And then, from out of the mist comes a voice. ‘Time Changes Everything’ opens with the dipping, golden chords and burnished strings of ‘Joe Louis’ and suddenly there’s a brash, guttural and distinctly North Western vocal elbowing in, talking of climbing mountains, and the inner psyche of boxers. Who is this pushy, sarcy, past-caring singer, sounding like a literate glam rocker with a Lennon fixation? Thats the thing with Squire‘s new record. It’s actually his debut.
Without his frontmen, forced to come out behind the old act of flash fretwork, Keef shapes and cryptic murmuring, Squire has to declare himself on his first solo set. The good news is that the encounter with the inner John (up front in the mix over contributions from new band Andy Treacey, Jonathan White and John Ellis) is a joyous affair.
Squire‘s chosen singing tone will be familiar to anyone with decent Lennon and Dylan collections but, hey, it works, and the songs gleam with concision, melody and a lyrical acuity which make this cearly his best work since the Roses debut.
‘I Miss You’ rolls along with the gilded blues swagger of an Anglicised Tom Petty. The hints of country segue into endearing rocked up jug-of-ale folk waltz ‘Shine A Light’, before the Dylan-ism creeps forth again for the wordy troubadour ballad which provides the album’s title. Croakily meditating on death in ‘Welcome To The Valley’ or depicting the Roses as naively optimistic Byrds’n’Pistols loving minstrels in ’15 Days’, Squire is oddly convincing. On ‘Transtatlantic Near Death Experience’ he pulls off the poet/sage act with elan, and on stand out track ‘All I Really Want’, he attains the impossible, somehow avoiding double pastiche while uniting a bedraggled Stones-y lurch with a humanistic, Lennon-esque protest lyric.
It’s rumoured that Squire toyed with a lo-fi Beck approach and then did a u-turn. Thank the Lord. Instead he’s made a brazen, heartwarming, classic ’70s bardic rock album, spirited enough to compete with and instruct the Ashcrofts and Gallaghers. Introducing John Squire, folks: look for someone in cowboy boots and little round glasses.