Now whittled down from the original Dexys Midnight Runners to plain Dexys, Kevin Rowland has returned with One Day I’m Going To Soar. It may have been 27 years since the last Dexys record, but it’s like Rowland has never really been away. Much of this beguiling album continues where 1985’s Don’t Stand Me Down left off, but now it’s an older, wiser bandleader toying with emotional insecurity and still digging old-school soul music. He reminisces and self-analyzes, breaking into passages of conversational patter between vocals that range from soft croon to impassioned soul peppered with stylized tics. Strings and horns concoct more than enough uplift to counter the singer’s downbeat moments.
The album is a journey from introspection to self-realization, worked out via a middle section of five songs that focus on Rowland’s one-off relationship with love. This is conceptualized and eventually fully drawn out in two duets with the marvelously feisty Madeleine Hyland. On the first of these, “I’m Always Going To Love You”, the band appears to be reprising a Barry White tune until it all suddenly falls apart, as Rowland changes his mind about his object of transitory desire, while Hyland, playing the quizzically wronged party, bites back. It’s pure theater, tragicomic and perfectly reflective of the age-old conundrum when boy meets girl doesn’t quite follow the script.
The warring continues and reaches a peak in the second duet, the glorious “Incapable of Love”, in which the shortcomings of Rowland’s love rat character are exposed by Hyland’s all-or-nothing stance. It’s funny, true to life, and elevated by a truly great horn-driven chorus. The central love songs are neatly sandwiched by three opening songs, which see Rowland taking stock and looking back, and three closers, which are all to do with coming to terms and acceptance. This gives a shape to the narrative and makes it a record best heard in sequence from start to finish. The final track, “It’s OK John Joe”, with its monologue sections linked by a gentle lounge chorus, sees the artist coming to terms with being alone, and lest anyone should feel bad for him, he ends it with a rousing pop chorus. It’s a fitting conclusion to an accomplished piece of work, which, like life, has its blemishes and its triumphs.
Essential Tracks: “Incapable of Love”, “I’m Always Going To Love You”, and “It’s OK John Joe”