John Illsley – Long Shadows

john illsley h

John Illsley
Long Shadows
Creek Records

A Brother in Arms Swings by The Pool.

Founding member of Dire Straits, bass player John Illsley has now released six solo albums; and this (obviously) is the latest and as I hadn’t read the Press Release prior to playing this disc; I actually thought it was a Mark Knopfler solo album mis-labeled.
Don’t get me wrong; that’s meant as a compliment as both Dire Straits and some of Knopfler’s own solo work is/was truly excellent and in its own way, ground breaking.
Long Shadows opens with the cinematic instrumental Morning; and the laid back mood is most certainly set.
This is immediately followed by In The Darkness, which is the first of the songs that sounds like it could have come from a late period Straits album; especially Illsley’s smoky drawl and the super-cool guitar breaks that drift in and out.
Once you get past ‘what this album sounds like’ and listen to it on it’s own merits; you will find Illsley is a very eloquent songwriter, with the brooding There’s Something About You and Ship of Fools both being very listenable over and over again.
The title track Long Shadows stands out for a couple of reasons; primarily because it is one of the more up-tempo tracks, and the song itself matches the extraordinarily good guitar playing that weaves around Illsley’s voice like a golden web.

There’s Something About You, featuring shimmering cymbals, lovely acoustic guitar is more than just a love song, it’s a very deep account of how a man sees his lover; and something that tugs at my heartstrings every tame I play it.
My favourite though; and one that very quickly got added to my ‘Summer Time Playlist’ is Close to the Edge which concludes the album. It’s not a lot different from anything else here; but just appeals to me…..I can’t say any more than that really.
Albums like this don’t ever trouble the Charts (if they still exist), radio shows nor Awards Ceremonies but that’s not why musicians like John Illsley and his esteemed mates (Robbie Macintosh, Steve Smith, Simon Johnson and Guy Fletcher to name only four) still make music these days; it’s because they are very good at what they do and I dare say why you buy music from artists no one you know has ever heard of.
So; don’t let this lovely album disappear into the ether….get yourself a copy and revel in a bunch of top quality songs.

Released May 20th 2016


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