Title - 'This Is What I Do' (Very Me Records)
Artist - Boy George
British singer, songwriter and 80’s icon best known for his work with Culture Club, Boy George has just released his first solo album in man a year - and it‘s fantastic! This Is What I Do was written by George and longtime writing partners John Themis, Kevan Frost and Richie Stevens (Soul II Soul, Tina Turner, Simply Red, Culture Club).
The album also features writing collaborations with legendary producer Youth, and a version of Yoko Ono's ‘Death Of Samantha.’ It was mixed by Dave Bascombe (Tears For Fears, Depeche Mode, Pendulum, Doves). The album features a string of guest musicians including DJ Yoda, Kitty Durham (Kitty Daisy & Lewis), Ally McErlaine (Texas/Red Sky July), MC Spee (Dreadzone) and Nizar Al Issa.
This delightful new album kicks off with the wonderful, truly impressive ‘King of Everything,’ that just pulsates of all-thing George and his rich new vocal vibe. Indeed, this song is so good that you simply want to blast it loud and proud from your car speakers when at traffic lights - just so others can hear it! “What’s the word on the street? Have I lost my crown? Will I be king of everything again?” Lyrics from his heart, thoughts circling his head, one assumes. The Motown-sounding love fist-pumper ‘Bigger Than War’ is next and is an ideal way to follow the lead track off the album with.
The life story of George is revealed in the reggae-inspired ‘Live Your Life’ and is definitely a nice spin of autobiographical musical pieces from the past. There are many more reggae-tinged tracks thereafter, not all work, this one does. The poppier ‘My God’ is next and bobs along very nicely, thank you very much. Not even close to being a filler, lyrics like “My God is bigger than your God. Put your bombs away. You need a little more faith. Don’t you know what you’re heart is for” only help to propel it towards its “guitar riff movement” of an ending!
As we get to ‘It’s Easy,’ you could be thinking that he couldn’t keep this pace of musical goodness up, but you’d be so very wrong, trust me! The track is yet another incredible song, one whose lyrics simply roll off tongue and allow a gentle Cash-like vibe to come forth. His Yoko Ono cover of ‘Death of Samantha’ is more of a personal triumph, one assumes, as each spoken word sounds like a retelling of his very own darker days! ‘Any Road’ is more of a laid back country song (“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”) that allows his husky vocals to leak through much more than before. He even adds right at the end, “I‘m glad I‘m not as crazy as I used to be“! So are we, my friend. So are we!
Next up is ‘My Star,’ a reggae trip with a pop bass tag line works for the most part, but his vocals aren’t truly strong enough for the back beat. Inclusive of a rap mid-section, thankfully not from George, it’s not what the song needed. The next track is ‘Love and Danger’ and is yet another dip into the reggae side of things. But the difference this time is that George purposefully changes his vocal tone to sound Jamaican! Does it work? Well, for the most part yes, but is it a good idea for future LP recordings? Probably not.
The reggae train rolls on with ‘Nice and Slow,’ which works a lot better than the others that went before it. Actually, it is a true highlight of the album which is a true blessing as I was about to scream aloud when the reggae beats opened the track! Indeed, this one song you can definitely hear on the beaches of the Caribbean, beach volleyball being played, beers being drunk, surfers surfing, etc. That’s backed by ‘Play Me,’ a slow scratch cut that ebbs along, but doesn’t really find its true direction. Inclusive of an end-of-song rap, it all just doesn‘t work, sorry. The final track, ‘Feed The Vibration’ is a dub step track that features slightly distorted vocals combined with flowing scratch and even a hint of, yes, you guessed it … reggae. The latter especially coming to the fore via the spoken word moments.
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk