x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Johnny Borrell breaks from Razorlight sound with solo album

Borrell 1 features warm, vibrant music and striking vocal harmonies.

Johnny Borrell
Borrell 1
Stiff Records / Virgin EMI
***

Chart-topping albums, concert halls rammed to capacity, a girlfriend in Kirsten Dunst - for a while, Johnny Borrell seemed to have it all. It's unfortunate, then, that his reputation for arrogance quickly became the main story.

After five years licking his wounds, the Razorlight frontman has produced a solo debut that is a zesty, undaunted affair, its Borrell-ness undiluted but only occasionally unpalatable. It helps that Borrell 1 breaks from the Razorlight sound so dramatically.

There are very few guitars here, and the warm, vibrant music that's so beautifully produced by Trevor Horn centres around piano, percussion and the vibrant saxophone of the Brazilian former-busker, Joao Mello.

Borrell will likely take some stick for the seeming pretentiousness of titles such as Cyrano Masochiste, but the song's Egyptian-reggae-meets-Fleetwood-Mac's-Tusk groove is hard to resist, and the doo-wop-influenced Dahlia Allegro is a great little pop song with striking vocal harmonies. Against all odds, I'm almost prepared to welcome Borrell back.

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