Hornal ”The Game Begins with the Lights Out”
Iain Hornal is a UK singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who lives in London, UK. Known as an in-demand session player for Jeff Lynne’s ELO, 10cc, and The Feeling he felt it was time to put his experience towards a solo album. He enlisted a large collective of musical talent to help polish the effort (a guest list too long display here).
Starting with “Staring At The Sky” the honey-voiced harmonies float along a cloud of synths and guitar melody. “Running Away” with added vocals from Sophie Ellis-Bextor makes for a solid adult pop chorus. “Jennifer” showcases all the influences above into another stellar single. “Caledone” shows off its ELO roots as a brilliant pop ballad and “She Doesn’t Have Anyone” is as catchy an ear-worm as anything. Much of the album is mid-tempo without a single misstep or wasted note. In fact, 10cc almost reunites here on “Say The Word” with Graham Gouldman and Kevin Godley adding vocals and inspiration. It’s an amazing closer with spoken poetry midway through by actor Matt Berry (The IT Crowd). Overall one of the best albums I’ve heard this year – it’s earned a spot on my top ten list for 2017.
Mothboxer ”The Secret Art of Saying Nothing”
Mothboxer burst onto the power pop scene ten years ago, and its still got the “goods” all these years later. Lead Moth Dave Ody continues to dazzle with the help of Robbie Burley, Phil Davies and Jon Hawes on the opener “Get It Right,” a solid anthem with a great hook. You’ll hear the clear ELO-Move influence on “Don’t Forget To Breathe” and “Everyone Knows” with its expansive echoing guitar sound.
The band does explore other styles; “Right Time To Say Goodnight” and “Rest My Mind” have more of a prog rock vibe, with the six-minute-plus “Half Light” mixing hard rock and psych-pop (reminding me of early Yes.) Toward the album’s end, it gets back on track with the Beatlesque guitar licks of “I Don’t Mind” and the title track. It’s good that Ody indulges his inner Pink Floyd, but it doesn’t compare with the catchy gems earlier on. Still a very highly recommended album.