Released: May 26
On their 13th album, Simply Red deliver an unfaltering showcase of passion and timeless pop music.
Marking the first long-player from Mick Hucknall and co since 2019’s ‘Blue Eyed Soul’, ‘Time’ was recorded in London with longstanding producer Andy Wright and a tight group of musicians who breathe into the material the same life as in band’s live shows.
“When we were in lockdown, I went, well, jeez, who am I actually?” remembers the group’s frontman of its origins. “What makes me tick? And I realised: you are a songwriter. So why don’t you write some songs about who you are? That’s really the essence of this album.”
Preceded by the lead single Better With You, the album segues between soul, funk, R&B and blues, showcasing the band’s versatility and enduring appeal, with Hucknall’s vocals as captivating as they were three decades ago.
The groove of Just Like You (parts one and two) is infectious, while the mid tempo Shades 22 is a hypnotic ode to living life with the glass half full, as he croons: ‘Shades on a rainy day / I’m playing like the sun is shining’.
It’s a theme that appears more than once on the album, including the perspective-setting Hey Mister and closing number Earth In A Lonely Space, while Too Long At The Fair sees him navigate strife and ask, Where do we go from here?’, in a lyric laced with political references and biblical allusions.
Oftentimes understated, ‘Time’ is an album to be listened to as a whole, although a handful of tracks – most notably the rousing Let your Hair Down and raw Never Be Gone – stand out as potential singles while forming key elements of the overall picture.
“Music is one of those wonderful communicators,” adds Mick of his approach to the project. “Each and every person can have an interpretation of a song that can mean something to them. To be able to create something that is then shared with millions of people all over the world – what a joy. How can anything be more rewarding and fulfilling than that?”
Whether the more pop-leaning numbers or the intimate, confessional moments on the LP, what’s undeniable is the musicianship throughout – in terms of performance, production, and the songs themselves – all of which work together to render ‘Time’ an essential Simply Red record.
‘Time’ is out May 26 on Warner.