AOR running amok, British hard rock stalwart measures a personal path.
Don’t get it wrong: this artist has been singing and strumming the bass for much longer than the title of his first solo album may hint at. Still, “23 Years” – the soulful track and the whole record – wouldn’t sound out of place in the ’90s, or even in the previous decade when Brown stepped on the course which led him through WILDFIRE and THE SWEET to CATS IN SPACE whose debut was released around the same time as Jeff’s own opus. The time isn’t the concept here, though, as the finale “Life Goes On” suggests – unless there’s a good time to be had, and that’s what it’s all about, indeed.
“Stay With Me” picking up where a certain FACES cut left off, “the time of your life” is a gist of the cinematic “Casino Royale” – heavy, heroic, high on harmonies – yet while radio-friendliness rolls off the big riffs and catchy choruses on the likes of “Contagious,” the heartbreak is here as well. Lyrical in “When The Love Is Gone” with its acoustic fragility, the reflection on shattered dreams is dramatically universal in “Fallen Angels” in which the squeal from former WARLOCK guitarists Peter Szigeti and Niko Arvanitis is fleshed out with Gary Moberley’s organ, yet it’s the solo of another SWEET alumnus, Steve Mann, that elevates the elusive mundanity behind “Slipping Away” to stage a solemn farewell…
Only it sounds more like a new beginning, what with a hidden number in the end. So if this album has been gestating for 23 years, it was worth the wait.