Easily Enjoyable Listening
Overall, it’s enjoyable listening from Jon Stevens for his latest album Starlight – though the first few songs may be a little uneven, the veteran Aussie finds his rock feet as he goes on
Review by Andrew Steel
There’s a brisk power-pop feel to the latest offering from former Noiseworks and INXS singer Jon Stevens that both serves him well and pins him back. On Starlight, the tenth solo LP of his career, he has enlisted the assistance of Dave A. Stewart as co-writer and producer – and the veteran Englishman’s DNA is splattered all over, from the buffed-up wall-of-sound shine to the new wave-lilting riffs and melodies. On the dramatic 1980s arena rock of Feel Like Letting Go and the driving mandolin-soul structure of Scars, it’s all too easy to imagine Annie Lennox threading her way through the country-tinged compositions. Despite the strength of the opening third, it can feel as if the Maori-born Australian is almost a surrogate frontman for the Eurythmics at times.
But as it progresses, Stevens eases himself into control, material cleaving more to his own hard-rock dynamics. Devil In My Heart, with its demonic rockabilly groove is a much better suit for his grit-and-brimstone voice, whilst gospel-country duet Something Bout You with Vanessa Amorosi is a laidback highlight. He indulges in vocal gymnastics on the Lennon/McCartney neo-psych wash of One Way Street – where Ringo Starr makes a brief cameo on the drums – and by the time he closes out with the languid, laid-back one-two of the title track and All About the People, he has asserted himself with gravelly confidence and weight, even in spite of the incongruous burst of rapping that crops up here and there near the end. It’s another easily enjoyable outing for Stevens; but one where perhaps if he went missing for the first 15 minutes, his absence would arguably go unnoticed.