Welcome back everyone and welcome to the latest instalment of my Album Of The Year 2015 top 30 countdown. I sincerely hope that you’re enjoying reading this series as much as I’m enjoying putting it together. Each day I’m getting to listen to the best that a strong year has delivered and I then get to wax lyrical about it – what could be more fun than that?
A reminder, as always, that my choices from 30 down to 14 can be accessed via links at the bottom of this blog post…
This album has been one of the big surprises for me in 2015. Of course, I’m well aware of John Mitchell and his involvement with It Bites, Arena and Frost* and Kino. Mitchell is undeniably a very talented musician and song writer but I simply wasn’t expecting this album and the impact it would have on me. It literally came out of the blue and knocked me off my feet.
The idea for Lonely Robot had been bubbling under the surface for a number of years but it took until 2015 for the project to see the light of day. Inspired by John Mitchell’s love for films, scores and cinematic music, Lonely Robot acts as the outlet for this inspiration. Of course, the music itself is still rooted in the neo-prog and prog rock genres but around this skeleton is built a hugely impressive set of songs that offer great depth, drama and emotion with a tangible science-fiction film soundtrack feel. To say the result is anything but rich and rewarding would be doing it a huge disservice.
As with many of my Top 30 picks, I wrote a full, in-depth review of ‘Please Come Home’ around the time of it’s release. The review can be read here. However, to quote a passage from it:
‘Mitchell has both a distinctive voice and guitar-playing style and so it is almost impossible not to be reminded of the aforementioned It Bites et al. However, what makes Lonely Robot different is its density and the overtly atmospheric nature of the music. From the depth and richness of the compositions right through to the lyrical imagery and the moniker of the project itself, ‘Please Come Home’ has the ability to both uplift the listener and reduce you to tears or at least cover you in goosebumps. The fact that this is no way unintentional only serves to further underline the undeniable strength of the music on this record.’
Impressively, the bulk of the material is naturally handled by Mitchell (guitars, bass, keys and vocals) with Craig Blundell (drums) and Nick Beggs (additional bass) ably assisting the project. In addition however, the album benefits from a number of high-profile guest appearances.
As well as Frost* colleague Jem Godfrey, ‘Please Come Home’ features Marillion’s Steve Hogarth on backing vocals and on piano on a couple of tracks, Touchstone vocalist Kim Seviour on one track and folk singer Heather Findlay on ‘Why Do We Stay’ to duet with Mitchell. Renowned actor Lee Ingleby provides the narration that features throughout the album, Peter Cox of 80s pop group Go West provides vocals for ‘Boy In The Radio’ whilst Nik Kershaw also contributes a guitar solo on ‘Humans Being’.
Importantly, for all the guest appearances, ‘Please Come Home’ retains a wonderfully smooth flow throughout, avoiding the pitfall of becoming disjointed and messy which can often be the case when numerous guests feature on an album. Speaking of ‘smooth’, Mitchell’s guitar playing on this record is sublime; precision, deftness and a delicate touch all combine to create further atmosphere and plenty of emotion to go hand-in-hand with the lyrical content.
The real key to Lonely Robot’s success however, is its longevity and its ability to keep me coming back for repeated listens. The album was released within the first couple of months of 2015 and yet, sitting here listening to it some ten months later, it feels as fresh and engaging as ever. I maintain my opinion that this is John Mitchell’s tour-de-force to date and like a magnet, it keeps pulling me in. Mind you, ‘Please Come Home’ is so superb that I don’t mind falling under its spell time and time again.
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 14
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 15
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 16
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 17
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 18
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 19
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 20
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 21
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 22
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 23
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 24
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 25
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 26
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 30
And from previous years: