It’s hard to believe that this band, Texas, are actually best known in France. They seem to have been so much part of the tapestry of UK music since ‘I Don’t Want a Lover’ dropped in 1989 on the brilliant debut ‘Southside’. Now, 33 years later they have released an album which is quite literally genre defying. It has songs that quite simply span every kind of music. Sharleen Spiteri, the age defying lead singer of the band says:
“it literally goes from a kind of country feel, to this big cinematic sound. It goes disco and you get soul and blues. You get the big ballads. You’ve got everything, its even got the Bob Dylan folky sort of stuff”
Lead single ‘Mr Haze’ definitely owes its vibe to the master of disco, the maestro Giorgio Moroder himself, who gave permission for the band to sample Donna Summer’s 1977 hit ‘Love’s Unkind’. He already had a relationship with the band after his reworking of ‘Summer Son’ back in 1999 so he knew his beats were safe in the masterful hands of the band. The result is a song that is impossible not to enjoy. If ever, after such a miserable May, we needed summertime in a bottle, then this song is exactly that. I personally can’t wait to see the band sing it live at Chris Evans’ Carfest in the Summer.
“It puts a smile on your face because you go ‘I know this’. It’s such a feel good song, Mr Haze, when you put it on you feel happy and you want to dance”
Title track ‘Hi’ really harks back to the vibe of 1997’s massive ‘White on Blonde’ and 1999’s ‘Hush’ albums but with a country rock feel that pays tribute to the twangy guitar of ‘I Don’t Need a Lover’. It features a stunning collaboration with Wu-Tang Clan and really reminds me of one of my favourite pieces of music ever, The Heavy’s ‘Short Change Hero’. This album succeeds in the near impossible task of moving forward in feel but not abandoning the 3 decades of music making that has made Texas one of our best bands. That being said it is fast becoming one of my favourite releases by the band and it has a brilliant video to boot.
Elsewhere on the album we see collaborations with Richard Hawley on the brilliant ‘Dark Fire’ and Sharleen breaking new ground for her with a duet with Altered Images’ Clare Grogan, Scots musical royalty together at last, on ‘Look What You’ve Done’. Sharleen says:
“I do a duet with Clare Grogan as well, which I’ve never done before! I’d never done a duet with another so it’s amazing, it’s fantastic”
The new album is an entirely new piece of work but does celebrate various album and track anniversaries. Sharleen has commented on the band’s journey into the archives as they tried to come up with something that was a celebration of past work.
“We went into the vaults to look for putting something together for Universal, and we were like ‘let’s try and find stuff that’s never been heard before’ and there was loads of it, and we kind of went maybe we should just put a whole album together of that and then we went ‘What are we doing? Let’s just write a completely new album’”
The record was actually finished before lockdown but not released as the band were really aware of releasing it when the tone of the times we were living in seemed wrong. They spent the first lockdown writing and added another three songs to the track listing.
“(we) did a little bit of jiggery-pokery messing around with it “
Whatever song ends up being your favourite on the new album, there is one constant and that is the incredible vocals of lead singer Sharleen Spiteri which is effortlessly poured over the whole release, always smooth and yet with that hint of controlled rock sensibility whether utilised in the restrained ‘Moonstar’ or the 50’s dance style of ‘Dark Fire’. Rarely has a singer who has been around for over thirty years been able to sustain the high quality of this singer. It’s about time that we take our lead from the French and put Texas on the music pedestal on which they belong.
Track list: Mr Haze, Hi (with Wu-Tang Clan), Just Want to be Liked, Unbelievable, Moonstar, Dark Fire, Look What You’ve Done (with Clare Grogan), Heaven Knows, You Can Call Me, Sound of my Voice, Falling, Hi (single mix), Had a Hard Day, Had to Leave.