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Gary's most personal and introspective album so far
on 1 December 2013
Since I Saw You Last showcases Gary's skills as a mature songwriter, who's been through a lot in his life and who's used his latest album as a vehicle to empty his heart for his fans and to exorcise some demons. He's literally wearing his heart on his sleeve in each song. Lyrically, this is the best work he's done both solo and with Take That, simply because the words sound sincere and not forced. The poignant ballad Dying Inside is a fair example of a man trying to say how he felt after the tragic loss of his daughter, Poppy- the best track on the album, in my opinion. On the verses, the voice is accompanied solely by the piano, but once he breaks into falsetto on the chorus and middle eight, you can hear a cello in the background,adding gravitas to a voice that sounds like that of a mourning man. God is equally introspective and Gary has to be applauded for including a song so strongly meditative and spiritual, in an age where religion is considered outdated and far removed from music. This is the sign of a man who does an album mainly for himself, without caring about what is expected from him. He says himself: "I've accepted that I won't be in fashion" - and to that I say "Thank the Lord!".
Requiem - one of the most Beatles-esque songs on the album - was inspired by the sudden loss of his father in 2009. People would expect this to be a sad, depressing song; on the contrary, Gary knows how to turn things around without slipping on the dark side - the point of view is that of the person who passed away. The lyrics are quite funny if you imagine the deceased telling the loved ones: "You die if you see my new place". Lyrics very profound and full of meaning, but very witty and funny at the same time.
The ballads on the album are at a higher standard than those on the Beautiful World album and never once can they be accused of being cheesy. Jump is the song that would fit perfectly on any Take That album. It's once again the highly personal content that prevents them from being cheesy. For people who are unaware of Gary's lifestory, this album may go right over their heads, but for anyone who knows what his wife Dawn and his children mean to him, songs like More Than Life - which is probably the response to Nobody Else, a song written for his parents, that he now wants to replicate as a song about him and Dawn - and This House tell the story of his salvation and of true life.
The album is very well balanced. Whoever says that it's an album full of ballads couldn't be more wrong. Let Me Go - a song written in the vein of Johnny Cash (not Mumford and Sons, which can easily be proven, since Gary had already written the folk song, Up All Night, by the time Mumford and Sons were being formed, which excludes them as a source of inspiration), Actress, Mr. Everything, Small Town Girls, The Song I'll Never Write, This House, Face to Face - the brilliant tribute and duet to/with Elton John are all up-tempo songs (even though sometimes the up-tempo is used to counterbalance the heavy, dark lyrics).
The songs on this album are not the stadium anthems that Take That accustomed us to, but that can only be a good thing. It comes a time when overproduced songs don't appeal anymore and this album offers a very enchanting alternative: classic songs, that stir away from the shallow pop and that should be listened to over and over again. This is not an album for radios - apart from Let Me Go and Face to Face -, it's not an album for stadiums or clubs, it's simply an album designed with no other purpose than for fans to enjoy the music.
Gary's voice sounds amazing on this album, because it's acquired a raspiness that he lacked in his youth, but that really suits the mature style of his songs.
There are not enough good words to say about this album. The 14 years wait was all worth it and not only does the album not disappoint,but it also exceeds all expectations.
I would not recommend it to non-fans, because I don't know if they are able to appreciate this album at its true value.
Standout tracks: Dying Inside, God, Jump, Requiem, Since I Saw You Last, 6th Avenue, The Song I'll Never Write, but the entire album is brilliant.