MIKE LINDUP: Changes 2 (Knapdale)

Mike Lindup’s name might not be that familiar but his music will be. You see the acclaimed keyboardist/vocalist/composer was a founder member of Level 42. You’ll know the band were hugely successful but disbanded in 1994 only to reform in 2001, though Mike didn’t rejoin till 2006. In the interim he worked with a band called Da Lata who proffered a Brit take on Brazilian music. Mike also pursues his own solo career – though it’s a little sporadic. He released his first solo album, ‘Changes’, back in 1990. That was followed by 2003’s ‘Conversations With Silence’ and 2011’s ‘One The One’. Hardly prolific, but in the case of Mike Lindup quality is more important that quantity… as witnessed by this new long player, ‘Changes 2’ which has been some years in the making. The sets first single, ‘Time To Let Go’ was released back in June 2021!

First that title, ‘Changes 2’. Mike explains: “Changes – so many since I began recording this album, and as the saying goes, the one thing you can be sure of in this life. During the four years of making this album I’ve been reflecting on the world as I see it, the actors and actions on this grand stage of life, love, death, prejudice, politics, separation, longing, hopes and dreams. Musically, many of the seeds of these songs took hold a while ago and wouldn’t let go, but to be fulfilled they needed input and inspiration from my producers Toni and Mike, and the talents of the singers and musicians that are featured within. My wish is that some of these themes will resonate with you.”

From that you can guess that ‘Changes 2’ is a complex affair. It is. It’s wide-ranging both in sonic and lyrical content and the 12 tracker isn’t always an easy listen. In places it’s provocative. It offers intrigue, insight and, maybe surprisingly, humour. Witness the track ‘Teflon Don’. It rides a funky groove underpinning a biting satire on entitled, pompous, demagogue politicians who think they can get away with almost anything… nothing sticks! Remind you of anyone? Helping Mike deliver on this one is comedian/impressionist Jon Culshaw.

Culshaw is just one of many “names” on the LP. The out and out soul crowd will be drawn immediately to the tracks featuring Tony Momrelle and Omar. The former features on a lovely, funky ‘Could It Really Be’ where the Latin flavour is heightened by sparkling piano from Latino maestro, Alex Wilson. Mr Lyle Fook is up front on the crisp, contemporary soul groove that is ‘I Saw You In My Dreams’.

Amongst the other  guests are Ursula  Rucker and Mike old’s mate Mark King. Both feature on ‘World Is Ready’, a song  which explores what change actually means; King slaps his  bass as only he can while Ms Rucker  adds her distinctive spoken word parts.

Elsewhere, ‘You Just Can’t Live As An Island’ is a big, bright, brassy modern soul dancer – a far cry from 17th Century poet John Donne’s original ‘No Man Is An Island’ poem which might have inspired Mike. The soul crowd will also enjoy the opener, ‘Atlantia’ which sort of melds the sounds of Incognito, EWF and Level 42!

Much more sombre is the ballad ‘David’ – a paean to loss. ‘All Is One’ is another haunting offering while ‘All For Love’ is a sweeter ballad. It’s gentleness is echoed in the folksy, acoustic  ‘Fragile Heart’. Those three add variety to an album that though not your conventional soul set is already winning plaudits from genre tastemakers like Gilles Peterson and with Reel People’s Tony Economides and Mike Patto in the producers’ chairs you know right away that there’s going to be just a little soul running through everything!

(BB) 4/5