Fabulous 60's influenced summery pop on new album from Tampa Bay-based singer-so
At a perfect 34 minutes the latest from Wilcox and company, ‘Last Day On Planet Earth’, doesn’t disappoint for even one second. Clad in one of Sunshine Drenchy’s most impressive sleeves, which are becoming as interesting as the music they clothe, the very first few seconds of the opening song, ‘Spaceship Over Tulsa’ causes a massive grin to break out.
Mixing his power-pop sensibilities with touches of folk music Wilcox sets the level high by opening with this melodic slice of pop heaven that just can’t fail to make you feel good no matter what the day has already thrown at you. While appreciating that this is very much a Ricky Wilcox album, it has to be said that once again Steve Connelly, who co-produces all the songs with Wilcox, adds so much to these songs. Why is it that every time I hear a Connelly guitar solo it feels like the first time I’m hearing the man and I’m stopped in my tracks? That said, Wilcox is hardly a novice, handling all the drum parts plus contributing guitar, bass and keyboards expertly throughout the album, proving that here is another musician who deserves more attention that he is currently receiving.
Vocally something has changed too; there’s still that lightness to his vocals but there’s more feeling, more emotion, displayed throughout this latest collection. In fact, while Wilcox hasn’t got a particularly distinctive singing voice. it’s a warm, inviting sound on ‘Last Day On Planet Earth’ and the more you hear it the more appealing it becomes. The way he closes that opening song with the line, “ All I’m asking is do you love me/That’s all I really want to know” is particularly moving, the sentiment in his voice sounding totally honest. It’s a perfect opening four minutes that is going to soundtrack this summer for a good few people.
‘Picture’ is where Wilcox displays his Beatles/Byrds influences; it’s one of those songs that you know instantly, like you’ve lived with it all your life, while acknowledging that it is, in fact, fresh and new. It’s yet another perfect little pop song. What’s not to like? Harmonies, chiming guitars, vocals that you just can’t place but know you’ve heard many times before, and another charming Wilcox melody all contribute to make the song another dose of summer sunshine. The good-time feel that those opening two songs generate is going to make this one of the most played albums this summer.
Tim Bernard’s saxophone goes some way to taking ‘Jump Back’ into a completely different direction than the songs that precede it, adding a rock ‘n’ roll feel to the proceedings shows that Wilcox is no one trick pony and lines like “you’ve got cool hair like Keith Relf “ all add to the fun. it’s more than cool that Relf is still remembered for more than his vocals.
There are two short instrumental pieces on ‘Last Day On Planet Earth’. The first is the 50 second ‘Honda Prelude’ which is simply a beautiful piece of music, very atmospheric and which doesn’t, surprisingly, interrupt the flow of the album,. In fact it adds a ‘Pet Sounds’ like quality to the album which is no bad thing. The song that follows, ‘Guys Like You And Me’, is the centerpiece of ‘Last Day On Planet Earth’. The Opening lines of “ There’s a blue light hanging in the basement tonight/Colouring our rock and roll dreams/We thought they would last forever/But just a tick of the clock it seems” finds Wilcox in a reflective mood but one that many will recognize. Driven by piano and guitar, Wilcox almost mumbles the words which all adds to the melancholy feel of the song.
Apart from the two short instrumentals, which both go some way to setting the mood of the songs they precede, any of the remaining nine songs could be plucked off the album for radio play, ‘Light Up’ for example is another summery pop confection that will have you singing along within seconds. It has an almost jaunty, reggae feel to it that will brighten a few barbeques this summer for sure.
‘Last Day On Planet Earth’ has to be, despite his long career and seemingly being around music forever, the best album yet that Wilcox has been involved in,. It’s varied, beautifully played and produced, hangs together brilliantly and improves with every play even though that seems impossible from the very first time you hear it as it’s so perfect from the off.
But don’t just take my word for it, check out the Sunshine Drenchy site, there you can download, for free, the label’s 2012 sampler which includes those opening two songs from ‘Last Day On Planet Earth’, namely ‘Spaceship Over Tulsa’ and ‘Picture’, but be prepared to shell out for the album after hearing those songs; the rest of this latest offering from Wilcox is more of the same quality. ‘Last Day On Planet Earth’ is a remarkable set of songs and is highly recommended.