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Music Review

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On a Clear Day


Artist: Anthony Strong
Label: Naïve Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 18 May 2015

Despite building a reputation as much for his classic British style as his swaggering vocals, feel-good live shows and a piano style reminiscent of a young Harry Connick Jnr, Anthony Strong’s biggest achievements so far have all come overseas and, until now, slipped under the radar of much of the British media.

Strong’s new album, On A Clear Day, took two years to bring together. The repertoire is unashamedly ‘old school’ - from jazz standards and classics, through to early Stevie Wonder and Motown - a cross section of his personal record collection.

To deliver the sound he wanted to convey on the album, Strong took it upon himself to take up the duties of arranging, composing, band leading, orchestration, and producing. Strong reveals that he became addicted to the sound of the big horn section after a tour. With the sound he wanted to capture in his mind, he started on the arrangements. More than twenty musicians were brought in, including Seb De Krom (Jamie Cullum), Nigel Hitchcock (Ray Charles), Gareth Lockrane (Michael Kiwanuka) and a horn section featuring some of London’s top session players.

The end results speak for themselves. You can almost hear the wine classes chinking on table's close by and the applause between each tracks. Or course, you can't hear these as it's a studio album, but Strong's performances capture the raw energy that only comes with live events.

The album contains 14 songs (48 min, 40 sec). Personal highlights include the album's opener, 'On a Clear Day'; 'Whatever Lola Wants' (which is a horn heavy, epic performance that could close any show); the laid back jazz stylings of 'Baby Plays Around'; and 'The Outgoing Administration', which is a perfect way to finish the album.

Some of Strong's interpretations take a little time to come around to. For example I wasn't quite sure how I felt about 'Unforgettable' and 'Higher Ground'. There's no question that Strong takes the songs and makes them his own, it's just a question of whether you're open to hearing a new spin on old classics.

Track listing:

01 - On a Clear Day
02 - Whatever Lola Wants
03 - As Time Goes By
04 - Nothing Like You
05 - Unforgettable
06 - The More I See You
07 - Higher Ground
08 - Baby Plays Around
09 - That Kind of Guy
10 - When It Moves You
11 - Don't Stop Til You Get Enough
12 - Use Me
13 - What Is This Thing Called Love?
14 - The Outgoing Administration


Nick Smithson

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