Review: Ashley Reaks – Power Failure

With a colourful CV behind him, the one guarantee with musician/artist Ashley Reaks is that his new album is not going to be dull. Once a promising cricketer, Reaks’ musical career is nothing less than eclectic given that he had stints in (ex-Take That member) Mark Owen’s backing band, toured with Francis Dunnery and also had the honour of appearing on the main stage of Glastonbury for the short-lived and much-hyped outfit Younger Younger 28’s. Rest assured, though, that his solo work resides in a different musical sphere altogether.

Ashley Reaks Album Cover

The cover artwork to ‘Power Failure’ is a clue to the music since this is essentially a collage of incongruous layers of sound. It’s captivating from the moment the rumbling bassline of ‘Egg To Worm To Fly’ thunders in. Reaks’ delivery, part-sung, part-spoken is arresting (“I’m a Christ!” he declares) but he is also acutely aware that bringing in guest vocalists adds even more vibrancy. So Maria Jardardottir soothes on ‘Lucky Gordon’ and a collaboration with Lucy Mizen for the melodic jazz number ‘Bulldog Grace’ is worthy of commercial radio.

Using a spoken word contribution can be a dangerous idea but poet Joe Hakim’s contribution is compelling, especially when his state of the nation musings are set to slinky Happy Mondays-esque rhythms. Further demonstrating his versatility, Reaks is just at home whether he is making strident piano instrumentals, (‘No Wonder Camels Spit’), chanting (“the shouldn’t work but it does” approach of ‘Miss Holy Holy’) or offering some surprisingly palatable progressive jazz (‘The Glances Of Mercy’).

‘Power Failure’ is not pop but Reaks has an ear for grooves and hooks which makes what should be a challenging listen into one which is ultimately addictive. Reference points are hard to identify since this is a very unique-sounding album but Public Image fans are likely to love it. So given his chequered past, Reaks could be classed as a late bloomer and after making this excellent record, one would hope he wouldn’t need to work with Mark Owen again.

Web Sites:
Ashley Reaks Official Site
Bandcamp Stream of Ashley Reaks’ ‘Power Failure’

Further Listening:
Public Image Ltd


1 Response to “Review: Ashley Reaks – Power Failure”

  1. 1 Staatskanzlei June 11, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Owo, co sir Roger za Staatskanzlei przelotnie usłyszał, brzmiało niezmiernie interesująco.
    Trusia nie budził się
    zbytnią estymą szlachty. Powiadano, że przy baranicą, jaką
    sielski odziewał, chowa się zatwardzia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: