Light, bright solo debut from Charlatans' ex-pat frontman
Tim Burgess moved to LA nearly five years back, so perhaps it’s no great surprise that?several thousand miles from The Charlatans’ creative centre back in Manchester?he should decide to make a solo album, if only to fill the days and sate creative urges.
I Believe, thankfully, isn’t some ex-pat LA rawk record. Sure, he’s pictured on the CD booklet sitting in the Mojave desert wearing a Stetson and strumming a guitar, but that’s pretty much where the LA rock fantasy ends. What we get is brisk and breezy, a gossamer-light summer confection that references Burt Bacharach, Philly soul and The Beach Boys, while retaining Burgess’ wide-eyed charm.
Recorded over a 10-month period, grabbing time in between Charlatans commitments, the album opens with the title track, slow-burning and sexy, but serviceable enough to draw you in. The resolutely chirpy, horn-driven “Only A Boy” gives way to “We All Need Love” with Burgess riffing on “Sail On Sailor”‘s lush orchestrations (he later revisits classic Wilson turf on “Po Boy Soul”). The second half of the album is the most consistently rewarding. Kicking off with the haunting “Be My Baby”, it leads into the bluegrass pop of “Years Ago”, while “Say Yes” is an intoxicating blend of soaring strings and smoky horns and “Love To Spend The Night” recalls the elegant, intricate arrangements of baroque Bacharach.
Just as Wonderland was a departure from the Charlies’ sound, so I Believe finds Burgess eagerly exploring new directions. Light, but likeable.