This is a review of "Hasn't Heard of You Either" recorded by Ric Neale. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2004.
Ric Neale does faultless pro-style songs with a contemporary r&b flavour. Great voice, slick sidemen and a warm jazz inclination add up to a luxurious journey through eight memorable tunes. It's stuff you would expect to be coming out of New York or Los Angeles rather than Leeds. Songwriting gifts apart, Ric (along with co-producers Craig Golding and Danny Cope) also has the hang of microphones, eq levels and mixing desks. So having spent the last four hours of your journey sitting on the floor between overcrowded coaches in Standard Class, this is like being ushered into First, served with fresh coffee and warm butter croissants and given a full refund for suffering the inconvenience. Scorn it if you will, but you can't beat it. It's a maturity thing.
"Saturated" sings out head and shoulders above the rest as a neatly rolling tune set against the emotional tugs of lightly shifting guitar chords. It's an obvious AOR radio hit. It could easily be a monster weepy film theme too. I love it. "Brick by brick" is heavier on the lyrical cliches, and has one of those middle eight shifts into a minor key that reminds me for no good reason of Barry Manilow (my apologies). "Call Out My Name" has a euphoric cheer-up feel with la la background vocals like they should be. "Something in her voice" approaches full band meatiness with distorted electric guitars and nifty harmony vocals. Each song has its character and its unique textures. The voice and the polish are the linking features. Themes are personal and emotional. Introductory belter "Are you listening" set me off on the synaptic memory trail of a number of singers ... and it's only after a dozen hearings that it dawns on me that most of them are women. Janis Ian's recent stuff. Tracey Chapman. Even Joan Armatrading. New man I guess. It's a good thing.
So it ain't rock and roll. It ain't cheap publisher-ammo neither. Keep the record company scum off this stuff. Get your own copy direct and tell one good friend to do the same. And when you see Ric at a local gig have a quiet word about his tendency to sing in an American accent. It's OK being a shy bloke with a great singing voice these days. But when it comes to performance you've got to make that final step to be being yourself. Sing in our own accent and own up to being who you really are. It's a therapy thing.