VERDEN ALLEN – No One Knows

Singsong Music 2022

Without much hoopla yet with a lot of effervescence legendary ivories-driver is questioning the spirit of instants and eternity.

VERDEN ALLEN –
No One Knows

2022 marks the 40th anniversary of Verden Allen’s solo debut under his own name, and it’s a great occasion for an erstwhile young dude to reprise his original DIY method and play not only organ but also all the other instruments and make his sixth album sound both vulnerable and bold, which has always been the veteran’s MO. Somewhat least celebrated of all MOTT THE HOOPLE musicians, he used to create an integral part of their aural appeal and remains, together with Ian Hunter, the last still active member of the British ensemble’s classic line-up. However, the last we heard of the keyboardist was in 2013, when he took part in the band’s reunion and released the solid "Love You & Leave You" album with SOFT GROUND. Many assumed Verden had retired, yet “No One Knows” finds Allen invigorated and ready to carry the news.

And the news is that he’s stuck to traditional, eternal even, English values, as suggested by opener “Football, Skittles & Darts” in which the venerable musician struts his Hammond-steamrolled stuff with a lot of gusto and panache, letting the momentum of good times roll over a punchy groove of a piano boogie where Verden’s unassuming vocals roar so infectiously, before a full ensemble strike the familiar pub-rock mood of “Hold On To This” with an irresistibly flawed, vibrant romanticism and Jamie Thyer’s riff-laden filigree. The approach – applied to the orchestral pop of “Fine Time To Love” further down the line, sans guitar sass, to betray Allen’s warm smile – will contrast the recklessly raw, arena-teasing, swirling wigout of “Overnight Stay” and the blues-drenched, streamlined assault of “The Vein” (a sonic follow-up of sorts to “Death May Be Your Santa Claus”) and subsequent balladry too, but not the dewy-eyed hymn “Just Dream” nor “The Rebel” whose Bach-based uplift feels majestic.

Yet the album’s title track that brings the cycle to a close is hilariously defiant – spitting in the face of the moment and the age and demonstrating the veteran’s mastery of arrangement and control of the audience, be it old fans or the uninitiated, bound to fall under his swaying spell. The spell which should spell: retirement is out of the question for Verden Allen.

****4/5

August 2, 2022

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