REVIEW: JON STEVENS – STARLIGHT (2017)

Ex Dead Daisies man in full bloom

 

Best known over here in the UK, perhaps, for his stint in the Dead Daisies – he was the original lead singer in those shows with Black Star Riders and wrote the brilliant “Lock N Load” with Slash – Jon Stevens is something of an antipodean legend. Platinum and Gold Records litter his career in Noiseworks and when INXS, no less, lost Michael Hutchence, it was to Stevens they originally turned.

All of which is small beer when compared to this fact. Ringo Starr plays on this, his 11th solo album. That’s an actual Beatle, ladies and gents – which means that whatever MV writes about “Starlight” is pretty much immaterial. In the great scheme of things Stevens has already won. Hands down. And, we’ll bet he’s met Kylie, which means we are really jealous.

The song that Starr plays on, “One Way Street” appropriately, has a late period Beatles air about it and is typical of “Starlight” in that there is nothing else that sounds like it on the record.

For it seems that for this album, Stevens a notoriously creative individual, has gone about pulling as many disparate themes together as possible.

Take “Hold On” for example. The opening song here, it is as blue collar as blue-collar rock gets. There is more than a hint of MV faves You Am I about this, and the harmonica licks take it into some pleasingly dirty places: “Jesus on the dark web” offers one of its lines and this juxtaposition is perfect.

Stevens follows this up with the bluesy flavour of “Oh Lord”, which gets bonus points for superb organ work, but then as if eager to show his winning hand early, “Feels Like Letting Go” has the type of stadium filling potential that only the biggest pop songs can manage.

Recorded in Nashville with former Eurythmics man David Stewart, there is a flavour of country about the brilliant “Scars”, while there is a touch of soul and a dollop of sex about “F.U.C”.

Perhaps at its best with the driving, pulsing rock of “Devil In My Heart”, whatever “Starlight” does, is shot through with a real touch of class. “Something About You”, a summery, shimmering left turn has “radio hit” written all over it, and features the superb vocals of Vanessa Amorosi. The Stones-y “What Makes You Happy” is balls out rock n roll, and there is a real sense of fun here. The title track, builds to a crescendo to surely take Stevens back to his days in Jesus Christ Superstar.

The soaring chorus has the feel of the last song on the record, but that honour is instead left to the uplifting “All About The People” a real soulful track, with a rap in the middle. It initially seems like a strange way to conclude, but in reality it makes sense. “Starlight” is an album that is both classic in feel and contemporary at the same time, and moreover one which refuses to bow to your expectations, while still shining very brightly indeed.

Rating 7.5/10