Lush pop soul, but all the craft can't conceal a hollowness
In technical terms, [b]‘Bright Penny’[/b] is a masterclass. It’s chockful of crafted soul-pop epics, deftly rendered by a crack team of veteran session musos that includes Curtis Mayfield’s drummer, Jackie Wilson’s bassist and (yes!) Phil Collins’ string arranger. Hayes, meanwhile, proves himself an expert hitter of the high note. Nonetheless, the ear candy has a hollow core. Hayes might know how to make records, but it’s less clear why he does so. Even when singing of music’s redemptive power (on [b]‘So Much Music’[/b]), Hayes sounds emotionally detached. Elsewhere he resorts to platitudes or simple incoherence. For all that his songs brim with melodic invention, in the end style trumps content.
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