Beating Mr. Neg: Howard Jones – ‘Transform’

❉ There’s something for old & new fans of electropop in Jones’ first release of new material since 2015.

I used to be a big fan of Howard Jones back in the eighties; I had both his first albums and the 12” collection on vinyl, but somewhere along the line we parted company as bands and fans sometimes do, though looking back I’m not entirely surely why.  I’d already decided to take some steps to become reacquainted with Howard’s music by booking to see him on his latest tour, taking place over May and June this year around the country, and I was delighted to be given his new album to review.

This collection is Howard’s first true pop release in over ten years, and is his first release of new material since 2015. My first impression is that the songs sound both like classic Howard Jones pop from the eighties and yet also new and fresh; tis must have been quite a balance to achieve and he should be justly proud of it. The blending of old and new sounds is a deliberate decision by Howard, and he states that “The songs have a distinct 80’s flavour.   As a starting point for Hero In Your Eyes I used a pallete of sounds that I used when I first started my one man electronic shows in the early 80s”.

There is certainly enough here to please the tastes of long term fans and to attract new fans who enjoy electropop. The styles encompass the superior pop of The One to Love You, through the heavy electronica of Beating Mr Neg, and the elegiac piano of Mother before concluding triumphantly with the disco pop of Stay with Me.

Howard has co-produced this collection with his long term collaborator Robbie Bronnimann and he has also worked with American Producer BT on the three tracks; The One to Love You, Transform and At The Speed of Love.  On the track The One to Love You the outro is a field recording that BT made of the place where he used to listen to Howard’s Human’s Lib and Dream into Action albums as a teenager, showing a long term connection between the two musician and a merging of the past and present into a pleasing whole.

Eagle will Fly reminded me of the theme to the TV series Airwolf with its electronic hook but I understand that it was used for the Eddie the Eagle film in 2016, so a different eighties icon!  The message is certainly uplifting, something that remains almost a constant throughout Howard’s work.  His lyrical output has always been considered and thoughtful, and this has continued throughout Transform.  Howard states that “Transform will discuss the idea that if we want to change the world for the benefit of everyone, first we have to start with ourselves.’

Having now heard the album, I’m really looking forward to seeing Howard perform in Leicester at the end of the month.

❉ Howard Jones – ‘Transform’ was released May 10th 2019 by Dtox Records.

❉ Order links: MusicGlue | Amazon | iTunes

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Howard Jones is touring in May:

Sat 25 May 2019- London Palladium
Sun 26 May 2019 – Cardiff St David’s Hall
Wed 29 May 2019 – Leicester De Montfort Hall
Thu 30 May 2019 – Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Fri 31 May 2019 – Edinburgh Queens Hall
Sat 1 June 2019 – Gateshead Sage

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