Tom Hingley - Soulfire
"Soulfire" came at a time when Tom was at an all time low contemplating his career, the future and having doubts that he was good enough to make a stab at a solo career. Thank god for Damon Gough aka Badly Drawn Boy who persuaded Tom that you've just got to follow that gut instinct and go for what you believe in. After a short stay in the Nu-acoustic scene (which neither Tom or any of his fellow acoustic troubadours felt part of) which saw the release of a short acoustic album entitled "Keeping Britain Untidy ". It allowed a base to build on and showed off the voice that had been hidden amongst the Inspiral's trademark organ sound.
With "Soulfire" he's back with a little help from his friends Jimmy Goodwin of Doves, Denise Johnson of Primal Scream fame and various members of the Fall in his live band. First single "Happiness" is pretty much a straightforward guitar pop tune which perhaps doesn't give a full indication of how eclectic this album actually is. I've made no secret to Tom, or anyone else who has cared to ask me, that my favourite track by a mile is "Inertia". The obvious choice for a single with a funky guitar line and the best tune from a Manchester act in the last few years. With Denise's lush soul vocals and a funky backbeat if Tom doesn't release this as the next single then he needs his head read.
Elsewhere the dance influence is prevalent taking in everything from subtle trip-hop on "Formal Tourist" and "Work Rest and Play" to breakbeats on "Manmade". Not that guitars have been left out in favour of a new trendy dance direction, anyone who knows him will tell you Tom's not that contrived, but more that they've simply been added into the melting pop of the the Hingley.
"Soulfire" is not only an album for the Inspiral Carpet completists but for anyone who has displayed the slightest interest in music over the past 10 years. A triumph of goodwill and talent over the stylized offerings from the likes of the Strokes and the Hives. If you're simply into music without extra trimmings buy this album now.
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