Released: April 2014
After Starsailor’s 2009 album, All the Plans, the post-Britpop band announced that they would be going on an extended hiatus to focus on individual projects. Frontman James Walsh has since been working on his solo career and has just released his debut album, Turning Point.
Clearly not daunted by the prospect of going it alone, Walsh has created a confident album that, whilst not a million miles away from the Starsailor sound, holds a bucket load of soul and musical maturity. Recorded in late 2013, the album is refreshing in that every song offers something a little different – whether it’s as simple as a change in tempo or the addition of smooth harmonies.
Title track and album opener, Turning Point, was perhaps not the best song to kick off the album. It’s pleasant enough but doesn’t leave any real impact – if anything it becomes duller with every subsequent listen. Better Part Of Me picks up the slack by delivering a gentle and goose-bump inducing chorus before the drums kick in and the song changes course.
Creating songs that build up over the course of their running time is something that Walsh is skilled at – starting soft before layering instruments and harmonies to create an all-encompassing sound that resonates long after the song has ended. Fading Grace, Isabel and Better Luck Next Time are three of the best tracks on the album, wearing Walsh’s influences – Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen and Jeff Buckley – firmly on their sleeve.
Toe tapper That Man is reminiscent of Walsh’s Starsailor days but that’s not a bad thing and fans of the band will find plenty to enjoy with the familiar sound. If I Had The Words is perhaps the most commercial song on the album, fitting perfectly into the indie-pop market and could very well draw in a new set of listeners should the powers-that-be decide it’s single material.
Inspired by Walsh’s family life, which was spent between London and Northern Ireland, Turning Point isn’t a smash-you-in-the-face-with-originality album but it’s still a very likeable debut if you can skip past a couple of forgettable tracks. Proving that he’s a gifted vocalist and an accomplished songwriter, Walsh’s coming of age album fully-establishes him as an artist who can stand alone without the safety blanket of a band.