I was blogging about Dexys Midnight Runners from day one, back in January 2007. In my initial post, I was looking forward to a new release for the band and excited about an online teaser called 'It's OK Johanna'.
Good job we weren't impatient. But hey, I'm now holding the new Dexys album in a trembling clutch. Only 27 years to wait, but here's the deal. 'One Day I'm Going To Soar' finds Kevin Rowland and various band veterans putting it out there. Swathes of soul and a deal of Caledonian swing. Amusing dialogue, stirring strings and levels of intensity that aren't often heard.
Such an artist. Kevin is still musing about his complex ancestry. Raised in the Midlands, but with parents from Mayo. He experienced the aftermath of the Birmingham pub bombings of 1974. He was rooted but deracinated. You can hear the dilemma on 'Nowhere Is Home' on which the Roland stone is ever-rolling. Happiness and completeness are elusive. 'It's OK John Joe' is an update on that old MySpace track and it's another Kevin discourse on the pursuit of love, the advancing years and a soul in exile.
The defiance of those young Dexys records has largely gone. But he's no push-over yet, and he's nurtured this album through indifferent times. Occasionally that challenge is revealed in a moment of pique, when the volume crashes and the song kicks out. But this record is also about intimacy and confession. In this respect it's like Al Green and those Willie Mitchell productions. You feel that the singer is up close and confidential, ready to impart those precious nuances on the likes of 'You'.
One of the towering moments on 1985's 'Don't Stand Me Down' was the song 'What's She Like'. It was a tremendous bid to express the unsayable, and this quest continues. You understand it with the tender croon and the spooked refrain. It's in the glorious minutes after the song has seemingly ended, when Kevin gets a riff or a notion and he goes whirling away. Bliss. Like Van Morrison says, it ain't why, it just is.