Who remembers Personal Column? Peel sessions, major label record deals and the music business machines of the eighties were all part of the band’s story – but singer/songwriter Marc Vormawah was always at the centre of it. The Scouse singer is back with a solo release for 2018 and suits being alone again. Naturally, the smooth soul sounds have returned, too. By Denis Parkinson.
Marc Vormawah has returned to making music. This is a good thing.
Those of a certain vintage might remember the singer well as the front-man for Liverpool band Personal Column in the nineteen eighties. Respect and admiration came from strong, insightful and politically literate material with that band and there were great records, John Peel sessions and critical acclaim. An adventure with Elektra Records in America drew that chapter of his career to a close, but fortunately the story is continuing now and things are getting interesting again.
Vormawah has returned with ‘Goodbye to Yesterday’, a masterful exercise in soulful musicianship. The release (an EP? Mini LP? Who cares?!) is a seven song, twenty-three minute long recording whose brevity masks a level of complexity and planning that is truly impressive. This is a cohesive piece of work with common themes, recurring musical motifs and an attention to detail that could only be described as a labour of love. A return of the ‘c’ word to music, perhaps?
Well, this is a concept album. The theme on the surface is nostalgia, the past and the future brought together to examine the changes that life brings. There is more depth, though, and moments of joy, sadness and melancholic pleasure. The songs explore a character taking stock of a life, the regrets and triumphs, naiveté leading to wisdom… but also the survival of the inner child. These are redemption songs crafted with emotional intelligence.
The devil is in the detail with Vormawah and the overall sound here is very smooth. Let’s come on like Spotify and say that if you like Steely Dan, Paul Simon and classic songwriting, generally, then ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’ is for you. There is no superfluous content and every note counts, as guitar histrionics are banished (there’s a nice flute solo, though!). Vormawah’s voice is lovely throughout and his delivery suits the songs well… classic, but contemporary at the same time. This is the work of a superb craftsman, with a brilliant sense of humour, and you won’t know whether to laugh or cry – I did both! It’s not made explicitly clear that ‘Goodbye to Yesterday’ is an autobiographical piece of work, but it feels very personal and remains a brave and brilliant collection of tunes either way.
Listening to these songs makes you feel like you’ve come home after being away for too long.
‘Goodbye To Yesterday’, by Marc Vormawah, is out now
Pic courtesy L8 Connection