THE INSTRUMENTAL MODE REMIX OF ALL I WANT (A SINGLE FROM BOLTON SONGWRITER SIMON ALDRED’S ’80s-INFLUENCED ELECTRO-SOUL ALBUM INVASION OF LOVE, ISSUED UNDER THE NAME OUT COLD) WAS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF LAST YEAR.
All wee small hours post-club taxi-ride steam, the remix played as consummation of the yearning romance between hope and heartbreak long established at the centre of his more traditional songwriting platform, guitar group Cherry Ghost.
Next week sees release of the band’s third outing. HERD RUNNERS follows up the widescreen cinematics of 2010’s brilliant BENEATH THIS BURNING SHORELINE (perhaps Aldred’s masterpiece, swathed in the sort of haunted grandeur, stretching melancholy and fathomless ache that Morrissey would have given an arm for – possibly even one of his own – on his 21st-century releases to date). Guitar sound here or chord change and melody there (never more so than on DON’T LEAVE ME HERE ALONE) give a nod to recording with stalwart Richard Hawley collaborator Colin Elliot, and HERD RUNNERS is cut from similarly lush but slightly frayed cloth as COLES CORNER and LADY’S BRIDGE. It’s prone to be, as Hawley himself would put it, “as soft as a bag of tits”.
“All of those goodbyes / Don’t they make you cry?” FRAGILE REIGN asks, piano twinkling like city lights against a panoramic night-sky. The atmospheric wide spaces of this new setting suit a song which felt something of a Neil Young pastiche on a 2004 EP by Aldred’s old band The Mule Boom. DRINKING FOR TWO is MOON RIVER on the rocks, rewritten for barflies; glimpses of diminishing dreams rippling away on a river of flowing whiskey. There is also optimism and a sense of getting through. Pre-empting all of the heartaches that follow, HERD RUNNERS begins with irresistable CLEAR SKIES EVER CLOSER, where sweet strings soar high blue over brown-earth croon. There is immediate hope: “All of our goodbyes we will get over”…
“What’s a life if not for living?” Aldred asks, on the warmly persistent THE WORLD COULD TURN, before “stealing kisses in the subways of Berlin” on the serene title track. HERD RUNNERS has Aldred seizing all chances and hitting confident stride.