Welcome to the glitz and glammer of Hollywood, and boy do we have a special show for you tonight. Who will win the Best Actor Oscar, and what will win the coveted Best Picture? Stay tuned in to find out and….and…say what? We’re NOT in Hollywood? Well where are we then? Leicester? Bloody LEICESTER? And it’s NOT the Academy Awards? It’s actually just a competition to find the best Daniel Lambert lookalike? Oh. Balls.
You would be forgiven for being swept away by the romantic ideals of one Richard Stone upon his latest album’s opening track ‘Back To The Stars‘. If my opening allusions were somewhat extravagant, you could at least compare it to a professional magic show, for it does indeed hold that kind of sophistication – a twinkle in its eye, rather like Dylan‘s recent American standards repertoire, though of course, unlike his Bobness, Stone doesn’t sound like he’s just eaten his smelliest sock. It’s a beautiful way to begin, and this time around, A Blue Flame make a habit of such warm musical embraces.
In some ways, Stone is an East Midlands version of Neil Hannon, all clever wordplay but a whole lot less smug (“but you don’t know where your love’s ending or where it begins / the sound of your heartbeats are filling your head ’til it spins“) on tracks like ‘We Feel Like We Feel‘ and the sweetly scented ‘A Better Way‘. It’s not until we reach track nine that the tempo is cranked up a notch, with the ‘Cor blimey guv’nor’ Libertines-like shuffle of ‘Everything’s A Lie‘ and the resplendent bravado of the impossible-to-forget ‘Empty Head‘, which is as close as we get to a full blown rocker.
On ‘See What Tomorrow Brings‘, Richard sings in a kind of staccato manner that is weirdly reminiscent of Hazel O’Connor on ‘Eighth Day‘, and uses a Hammond organ to quite stunning effect. But then again, I’ve always liked the sound of those buggers. Pretty sure it could even make ‘Agadoo‘ sound good, so let’s not go overboard on that one just yet. Topping the album off we return to the orchestral chamber pop style of Burt Bacharach on ‘Love Will Set You Free‘, which seems to be where this young songwriter truly excels.
Truth be told, I suspect it’s going to be a long time before Richard Stone’s world turns to dust, the likelihood being rather that he lights up each tile he treads on. But unlike the so-called King Of Pop, Stone’s going to light the fuckers up GOLD.