So, you think you know what a singer singwriter sounds like? All yearning vocals, a few pronunciation ticks for character, definitely a guitar or a piano… well, think again. Simon Kent challenges just about all of those notions.
Oh, he sings all right. He writes songs as well. But his album sleeve suggests he's not scared of neon and on playing the record it's pretty clear electronics, sequencers and synths hold few fears for him either. Rather than shambling into the folk club in search of exposure and a polite audience, Kent is likely to dangle a glitterball from the rafters and turn the drum machine up to 11.
But don't go thinking this is all about the disco distraction, this long delayed release shows he's got the meaningful lyrics thing down pat, not to mention the artfully arranged grown up song thing and the well crafted vocals thing as well. Never Stop Believing has already been picked up by Janice Long on Radio 2 and his support slots with The Christians, Echo & the Bunnymen and China Crisis, as well as Blair Dunlop and Nell Bryden have put his wares before appreciative ears.
Those searching for points of reference will be drawn to the artistry of Tears For Fears, Depeche Mode, early Japan and MGMT rather than the electronic end of Bowie's oeuvre the artist might prefer to cite. Still, it's all put together with some panache and if once or twice it flirts with an hysterical eighties power ballad guitar solo or identikit seventies electro production chill then so be it.
We live in an age when the word 'artist' is bandied about with little concern for its meaning. Simon Kent is that rare thing - an artist in the truest sense, skilled enough to be good at what he does and completely unafraid to do it his way.
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