Review: Jack Foley
TIM Burgess describes his debut solo album as a chance to explore
some personal preferences, stating that I Believe is 'more
free than the sound of the band'.
The long-time Californian resident has clearly been taken by
his West Coast life, and merrily goes about delivering lyrics
such as 'I believe in the West Coast'... and 'I believe in California
soul', freely admitting that such sentiments are not something
he thought the band would want to explore.
He even suggests that there is a selfishness about much of his
solo work, before declaring confidently that it is also a 'cheer
you up record' that deserves to be turned up.
Whether Charlatans fans will think the same, however, remains
to be seen, for this is quite different from what they may have
I Believe is a personal journey through Burgess' musical
inspirations, taking in The Rolling Stones of Exile on Main Street
fame, as well as Motown, funk, country and even Mexicana.
And it is a consistently enjoyable and frequently uplifting journey
that is well worth taking for fans and non-converts alike.
The Charlatans' sound really only gets a look in during the current
single, I Believe in the Spirit, when the music evokes
memories of the Wonderland
LP, while Burgess' newfound confidence with the falsetto is never
But just as you think this is only a slight departure, things
take a dramatic detour, with the hopelessly hip likes of Only
A Boy and Oh My Corazon allowing Burgess to finally
be let off the leash.
Only a Boy, in particular, is a happy-go-lucky horn blasting,
B-line shaking trip through the happier side of Tim's West Coast
life, while Oh My Corazon, with its breezy guitars and
feelgood chorus, could quite easily become a future single.
In fact, it could even be argued that certain tracks lie closer
to the mainstream than much of The Charlatans' recent material.
But don't worry, Burgess is not selling out. For as catchy and
throwaway as some songs remain, there are also those which will
probably have listeners scratching their heads in disbelief.
Years Ago, in particular, is a cowboy-based folk song,
packed with 'doo, do, doos' that evokes memories of experimental
Stones and early Paul Simon, while Say Yes, which quickly
follows, is a glorious Motown throwback that is a million miles
away from anything the band has done.
I Believe, in short, is a good-natured personal experiment
which, unlike some solo ventures, never forgets about the listener.
It is brimming with well-written, melody-laden songs - We
All Need Love and the mouth-organ led, Be My Baby being
another two stand-outs - which do excatly as Burgess intended
- cheer you up.
And we all need that, sometimes...