July 10, 2018 Tony Hadley – Talking to the Moon (Album Review)
When Vocalist Tony Hadley left the reformed Spandau Ballet in 2017, fans of the iconic English New Romantic/Sophistipop band were devastated once again. After all, Spandau Ballet had already undergone a similar falling out in 1990 due to a royalty dispute among members; then they reunited in 2009 after patching up their differences, only to face last year another challenging change in the group’s dynamics when Hadley ultimately left the band for good.
Spandau Ballet was one of the most beloved groups in the much celebrated heyday of Pop/New Wave in the 1980s, especially with Hadley’s voice representing more than half the sound of the band’s music. However, what could anyone do but understand the decisions that individual artists make. Whatever the reasons were behind the latest fallout, fans just need somehow to support the members’ consequential endeavors. After all, at the end of the spin, new music remains the sweet end results. As long as both parties remain determined to take the cudgels of fate by writing new songs, then everything should be fine; you know, it’s true!
The remaining members of Spandau Ballet decided to soldier on, replacing Hadley with a new singer; and that is for another story – certainly when they are ready to release their first album without their ex-frontman.
For his part, Hadley has nonetheless embarked again on a solo career. In fact, he has just released a new album – his fifth overall. It should be noted that he first went solo in the early ’90s, issuing his debut, The State of Play, in 1992; and his last, 2015’s The Christmas Album, three years ago.
Released on June 8, 2018, on Moonstone Music, Hadley’s latest work, titled Talking to the Moon, begins with the big-sounding, stadium-ready Sophisti-stomper “Take Back Everything.” The moment Hadley’s larger-than-life voice sways in, the initiated listener will realize once again how charismatic and soulful the imposing singer is. Hadley immediately turns crooner-mode as soon as the next track plays – the equally sophisticated as well as bombastic, piano-led and beautifully orchestrated “Tonight Belongs to Us.” Another flawless piano-oriented, slow balladry then follows in “Skin Deep,” which will fit well on a playlist that includes other well-loved Sophistipop songs like Lighthouse Family’s “Lost in Space,” Black’s “Wonderful Life,” The Escape Club’s “I’ll Be There,” Breathe’s “Hands to Heaven,” and Fra Lippo Lippi’s “Angel.” A further excursion into sophistication takes shape in the form of the heavily string-laden, R-n-B-influenced “How I Feel about You” and “Delirious,” which aligns Hadley in the league of fellow suave and stylish singers in his turf such as Rick Astley (“Angels on My Side”), Jason Donovan (“All the Words We Don’t Say”), Peter Cox (“Ain’t Gonna Cry Again”), and Paul Young (“Every Time You Go Away”).
May be considered Talking to the Moon’s most pensive track and the strongest one as well, “Unwanted” is sure to pull teardrops off countless eyes and pinch heartstrings of millions of forsaken lovers. Then Hadley sheds his upbeat, funky, Pop Rock side with “Accident Waiting to Happen” and “Killer Blow,” which show that he knows also how to swing the mic and bust his grooves – something that he has always been also good at anyway, especially during live performances. Still in a driven mood, the impassioned Hadley, however, turns subtly dark and ominous as he launches into “Oblivion,” ending the track in a jazzy flare.
Near the end of Hadley’s lunar contemplation, “Every Time” will surely be an instant favorite of die-hard fans who have grown up with and have long been accustomed to the New Romantic music of Hadley’s erstwhile group when he and his former comrades were being frenetic, engaging, and Guitar Pop-oriented.
Finally, Hadley concludes his conversations with the silent moon in the lonely sky with the slow piano ballad “What Am I?” – another seeming homage to the beloved sound of Spandau Ballet, but this time, appropriately, in the spirit and sentiments of “True,” “I’ll Fly for You,” and “Once More.”
Spandau Ballet will always be remembered to be at its peak and at its best when the fabulous five were united and complete – no doubt about that. However, with due respect and acknowledgment to the rest of Spandau Ballet, Hadley has shown again that he could fly and talk to the moon even only by himself and float in flickering colors and inspired state of play. You just got to give it to him. CrypticRock gives Talking to the Moon 4 out of 5 stars.