We are in the middle of a glorious festival of great music, of new releases and don’t ever let anyone tell you that we’re not. Don’t let them tell you that the music released these days is all the same, it’s all manufactured, it’s not as good as it was back in my day….strange that really because ‘my day’ usually translates to 60s or 70s and sometimes the 80s when folk are talking like that one of my favourite albums of 2021 encapsulates everything about that ‘golden era’ of great music.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of retro music and it’s what brought me to this point in my love for all music but it’s pure laziness to think nothing can match that music from way back….or even sound like that.

The Language of Curiosity from The Starlite Campbell Band is the album I’m talking about. Suzi and Simon, Starlite and Campbell respectively (No idea who Mr or Mrs Band is though) are usually noted for their blues appeal but this album sees them stretching out of that pigeonhole. Oh sure, there’s still some huge blues influences in there but it’s much more than that and all the better for it.

This is, to coin a phrase from my all-time hero, ‘Modern Music’, it is music for our times, not just in the sound but the lyrics too with plenty of social commentary going on, no holds barred commentary at that, just as it should be. If you’ve got something to say, say it and they do on ‘Gaslight’ one of the first singles from this fabulous album. This is no Billy Bragg folky protest standard though, it’s a real delve into the past with the opening almost Free-esque guitar before Simon sets about getting things off his chest and bringing undertones of Squeeze.

When you listen to this album, when you set aside some alone time to be with it then you’re rewarded at every turn, each new song will conjure up images for you, it will take you back to those music memories from that golden era and it envelops you like a lovely music comfort blanket.

Wonderful little guitar breaks that will set your butterflies dancing, not Ritchie Blackmore elongated over the top guitar breaks but short, sharp and catchy as chuff guitar breaks that get your toes tapping along with those dancing butterflies and then just to compound things holding the whole thing together is the sexy as ya like bass from Suzy and I like that the bass is never incidental on any song, it’s integral and the whole rhythm section is perfect as are the beautiful keyboards when called upon.

That rhythm section is perfect on ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ and it happens to have one of those aforementioned guitar breaks that threatens to go full Blackmore on us….but never actually does which I find a lovely tease.

The 70s vibe is never stronger than on my own album favourite ‘Take Time To Grow Old’

For all the world sounding like an Elvis Costello song. Not just Simon’s vocal that brings Mr McManus to mind but the whole construction of the song, the subject matter, the way it rolls along, all of it and being a big fan of this particular Elvis, this song ticks all of my boxes. There’s some wonderful backing vocals from Suzi here too before one of the longer guitar breaks and what a guitar break it is. A bit of depth added to it by the underlying keyboards and the melancholy piano to finish the whole glorious song turns me to mush every time. The sentiment of the lyrics isn’t lost on this ageing music fan. Beautiful.

If one song sums up everything I’ve spoken about and love about this album it’s the title track. It makes me smile every single time I listen to….shades of Squeeze again, shades of 10cc in fact lots of shades, you’ll hear your own influences in there and it will without a doubt take you back….lyrics that paint a picture, wonderful harmonies and chorus. From the opening up-tempo drumbeat that sets it up, through the little nugget of guitar, a riff as catchy as any you’ll ever hear, through the perfect blend of Suzy and Simon singing together…a truly lovely piece of nostalgia. When I listen to this track it makes my heart flutter…it’s like seeing a member of your family for the first time in a long time, that warm loving glow you get. That is a gift, a real gift.

I could go through every single track on this album, picking out a wonderful bit of guitar here, a beautiful bass line there, incredible keyboards, out-chuffin-standing lyric here, there and everywhere and there is so much of each to love, to get to know, to grow with. I’ve mentioned it before about this album, about the best albums any of us own or have loved, they take time. They don’t just hit you instantly, little bits do, parts of the album will grab instantly but great albums as a whole, they don’t get their hooks in straight away, you have to grow with a good album, allow it into your life, allow it into your soul and it will become all the better for that….when you hear on the 100th play that vocal you somehow missed….when you play it for the 1000th time and think, where has that bass been hiding, then even further down the road and you notice a sublime little pause that takes your breath away and each and every time it sounds as fresh as the first time you heard it, but now, you’re singing along with it…I burst into ‘Gaslight’ every time I hear the word mentioned these days….I add ….’to grow old’ when folk say “take ya time”

I look forward to growing with ‘Language of Curiosity’ I look forward to it becoming part of my life and discovering new things about it along the way but most of all I look forward to the sheer joy I get when I fire it up and when I finally get to drop the needle on my vinyl copy that will be heaven…pure heaven.