Andy Bennett releases his first solo album, Thinkin’ Drinkin’ Singin’, since his decision to leave Ocean Colour Scene behind in 2015, consisting of a collection of ten new songs with glorious threads of The Beatles throughout.
‘Hole in the Road’ opens up the album, which is an infectious, tantalising ballad-like slice of musical and lyrical poetry. It basks in warmth and sincerity, while the strings add an idyllic fullness. If released by a well-known established act then this would be a huge sing-along anthem in packed arenas up and down the country.
‘Drift Away’ delivers a floating, aching melody that demands that you join in, with the joy here largely in its simplicity. The only criticism I have is that the melodic whistling outro is criminally cut short. Perhaps it’s just me, but I wanted this to carry on forever, thus turning it into Bennett’s equivalent of The Beatles’ hit ‘Hey Jude’ or even the T.Rex single ‘Hot Love’. In the end I had to settle for pressing the rewind button repeatedly. Regardless, it’s a superb song.
‘Fool no More’ is one of the more rocking offerings and doesn’t disappoint, standing out as the quintessential track on an album that is full of gems. It has as a Gerry & The Pacemakers-esque vibe to it, which is a big compliment coming from me as I adore the Liverpool band. The song contains some beautiful, haunting guitar work underneath it all, however, the real heart and soul of the track is Bennett’s voice, which has a dry husky quality to it.
What follows next is another slice of upbeat rock ‘n’ roll in the form of ‘Baby Blue’. It’s big, powerful and possesses a certain swagger that wants you to get up and dance away care-free. If another single is lifted from the album then this would get my vote hands down.
Fans of Ocean Colour Scene will be familiar with the next song, ‘Old Pair of Jeans’, which originally featured on their 2010 album Saturday. Here, we get a different take on this wonderful track with jangling piano, which largely replaces the guitars from the OCS version, but make no mistake, this is a beautiful, bluesy and compelling piece of music. I’ve personally heard four different variations; The original OCS version with Simon Fowler on vocals, a live take with Andy stepping up on singing duties, a solo acoustic performance and, of course, this new offering. All are winners, which speaks volumes for the song itself.
‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ is a poignant piece gliding along at mid-pace with spine-tingling piano work, culminating in a sense of freedom and joyousness. The vocals are passionately delivered, laden with a mysterious significance.
A very mellow, intimate and downright emotional track is up next as Bennett’s voice is filled with sadness on ‘Delusional Faith’. It’s a haunting piece, but feels as though it’s missing an ingredient to elevate it to the next level.
‘You and I’ sees Andy Bennett taking on Paul Weller, nailing it to a tee. Say no more.
‘I Just Can’t Pretend’ is a melancholic slow piece that really grows on you after a couple of plays.
‘A Little Love’ closes the album perfectly with its happy-go-lucky flow. It is lyrics taken from this song, which is also the latest single, that the album has plucked its title. It almost feels like a distant relation to the record’s first track ‘Hole in the Road’, and in that sense both tracks bookend the album nicely.
The album manages to ride that fine line, balancing both euphoria and melancholia exceedingly well, which can be a tricky thing without becoming bogged down with one of the other. If there was any justice in the world then the quality of this music would be catapulted into the mainstream and lapped up by the masses. Thinkin’ Drinkin’ Singin’ is the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for Andy Bennett. His début solo record has taken a while to arrive, yet in the end, that wait has paid off for all.