We so often hear artists talk about how making an album can be a cathartic process, how music is a way of exorcising personal demons, of freeing the soul and revealing their inner most turmoils, deepest emotions, most private thoughts. But more often than not the said album actually ends up being little more than cliche and guarded revelations designed to tick certain boxes but say very little? On that score Temporary Hero is nothing if not the real deal. An artist who can forge music from the most intimate experiences, from real, deep rooted emotion and darkest thoughts. And if you are used to such a process resulting in tortured music and bleak soundscapes, again just another cliched refuge for artists looking to play to certain pre-conceived expectations, the sheer infectiousness of Quench will again surprise you.
Collectively it is a suite of songs that blend pop, R&B, soul and dance into fascinating, often buoyant grooves, deft dynamics and easy accessibility whilst lyrically exploring the stuff of life, the soaring highs and plummeting lows, the loves, the losses and the longings with real honesty. It sounds like the perfect combination, maybe even an improbable one, and it is, but more than that it perfectly highlights the fact that you can make music which is both commercial and which oozes integrity from every pore.
Quench kicks off with the current single, Thirsty, perhaps the most obviously commercial song on the album, built on a confident, driving beat, a club floor classic in the making; an opening salvo that admits that we all crave affection and excitement and does so in no uncertain terms. Having got the listener’s attention things turn down more finely wrought sonic pathways and explore some deeper concerns. Strong is still woven of soulful pop threads but gets to the heart of the real nature of the album, exploring personal loss, of moving beyond the traumatic aftermath of such events and of being strong enough to not bear grudges.
Wash Me (Off), planned as the next single, is a mercurial mix of afro-beat groove and soaring R&B and whilst its imagery ties nicely in to the cover art, like most things found here it is not meant to be taken literally. Think bigger, think nationally, think globally…what is the legacy of our actions and the actions of those we elect to make decisions for us? Is this who we really want to be? And then there are songs which deal with the most personal of concerns, Champion being about the bond between father and son and Slippery a gentle and heartfelt dedication to those he has lost and a reminder that you only have one life and you owe it to the people no longer with us to make it the best life you can for yourself.
It’s an album Temporary Hero was always destined to make, he readily admits as much. But timing is everything and it was only after he reached a point where he no longer felt the need to hide anything, where he was prepared to bare his soul, share it with the world at large and not be afraid of the reaction, that he knew he was ready.
And the result is a very special album indeed. One that is wonderfully personal but to which we can all relate, that is global in scale yet intimate in its origin, that explores the inner most thoughts and fears yet bravely displays all and which is wonderfully unique in its use of genres and styles yet which is also brilliantly commercial, should it wish to be. What more could you ask for?