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Simply Red - Stay

Simply Red, Stay

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

SIMPLY Red return with Stay, the third album to be available on their own label, SimplyRed.com, that’s billed as “a smooth and passionate collection of soulful tunes and vibrant lyrics, all driven by Mick Hucknall’s inimitable vocals”.

Part of that is correct. Hucknall’s vocals are as distinctive as ever, while much of Stay is firmly rooted in soulful territory. But while the album boasts its fair share of good songs, there are also moments that let it down badly and contribute to a disappointing overall experience.

Album opener The World And You Tonight is a strong start, kicking off with a melodic central guitar riff and some typically smooth vocals from the lead singer, as well as some fine backing vocals. But it’s followed by the somewhat generic lead single, So Not Over You, a cumbersome ballad that plods its way through wine bar territory.

There’s a snappy poppiness about title track Stay which harks back to the band’s earlier, more chart-friendly work that helps get things back on track, but attempts to extract a funky, even Motown style out of the brassy They Don’t Know hit another duff note.

The mix of blues guitars and funk also feels uneven on Oh! What A Girl, while the moody Good Times Have Done Me Wrong aim for the grittiness of a latter day Eric Clapton, complete with guitar solos, but pale by comparison to what “Slow Hand” might have done. It’s a song in search of an artist more suited to its style, much like Money TV.

Debris, Hucknall’s take on the Ronnie Lane classic, fares a little better and is suitably moody, as is The Death of The Cool, a passionately delivered mid-tempo offering that brings out the best in Hucknall’s smooth style.

And album closer Little Englander is a nicely composed final bow that’s built around some lush orchestration, the odd enchanting whistle, some hard-hitting lyrics (“let me smash the plastic face of my country”) and even the gimmicky introduction of a children’s choir. It shouldn’t work but it does and actually leaves you pining for a little more ambition throughout the remainder of the album.

Stay is certain to appeal to the diehard Simply Red fan brigade and should serve them well during their forthcoming five-night stint at London’s Royal Albert Hall, but it could have done with a few more surprises and only really gets above average on a couple of occasions.

Download picks: The World And You Tonight, Stay, The Death Of The Cool, Little Englander

Track listing:

  1. The World And You Tonight
  2. So Not Over You
  3. Stay
  4. They Don’t Know
  5. Oh! What A Girl!
  6. Good Times Have Done Me Wrong
  7. Debris
  8. Lady
  9. Money TV
  10. The Death Of The Cool
  11. Little Englander