Review Summary: 'Sadness in my eyes noone guessed, well no one tried"
This is the album, which marked the beginning of a new era for George Michael. His first LP in more than five years, after legal battles with Sony. Main reason behind them was lack of support from the company, which didn't allow him to create in the way he wanted to. At the time of its release, he was 33, so definitely ‘older' than before. It was clearly visible in music, which was more mature, complex and, well, greater than ever. It is worth noticing, that Michael wrote, arranged and produced all of the tracks and played variety of instruments himself.
Musically the album circulates around jazz, relying heavily on trumpet and saxophone. Most of the songs have rather slow cadence and allow the poweful lyrics to get to the listener. Their smooth arrangements make this album a perfect choice for an evening of contemplation, while enjoying this record. Beautiful piano and acoustic guitar are one of the highlights of this almost one-hour experience, which saw Michael explore new territories on his artistic journey.
‘Jesus To A Child', an opening song, is undoubtedly one of his greatest acomplishments. Heartbreaking story of a loss of the beloved one combined with powerful vocals and beautiful instrumentation(espacially acoustic guitar) create a masterpiece. This track(as well as ‘You Have Been Loved’) is a tribute to Anselmo Feleppa, brazilian fashion designer, who was the first and perhaps the only true love of Michael. His death was a devastating experience, which unabled him to create music for some time. In the end, it was an inspiration for possibly one of the most beautiful love songs ever.
Next comes ‘Fastlove', which stands in complete opposition to an album-opener. Funky, infectious song finds him looking, well, for a one-night affair and simply having some fun. This is a great example of how skillful as a composer Michael was, the bass line and saxophone are simply amazing. It topped the charts in the UK and you can clearly see, why.
The title track is a bitter goodbye to a lover, who turned out no to be the one. Dissapointment in love is one of the main topics throuoght the whole record, it appears on the next tracks, ‘Spinning The Wheel’ and ‘It Doesn't Really Matter'. ‘The Strangest Thing’ and ‘To Be Forgiven', on the other hand, are both heartbreaking prayers for love, which will help him find peace and happiness. These four tracks are the most deppressive part of the album and show clearly, how lonely Michael felt after the death of Feleppa, ‘the only one, who ever knew me', as he describes him on the ‘The Strangest Thing’.
Next track, however, brings a bit of an optimism. The best describtion of the lyrics is simply its title: ‘Move On', time can cure your pain. It ends with a refelction, which displays desire, which he had for his whole life- ‘I'm gonna be lucky in love someday’. ‘Star People' is the only song on the album, which doesn't concentrate on love. Instead, it is a picture of stars, who demand constant attention, exaggerate their problems in order to get some of it. However, noone really cares about their struggles, because ‘who gives a f*** about your problems darling, when you can pay the rent"’ Then comes ‘You Have Been Loved’, another track fully dedicated to Anselmo Feleppa. It is a beautiful ballad, told from the perspective of a mother, who lost her only child and is ‘looking for her crime'. ‘Take care, my love, she said, don't think, that God is dead. Take care, my love, she said. You have been loved'- I can't think of more beautiful farewell with a love of your life, than this one.
The last track’s title, is a declaration of artistic independence. ‘Free’ from Sony's influence, George Michael was able to create a masterpiece, an album, which, apart from being a massive success(6 tracks in the Top 3 of UK charts, a record, which stands unbeaten up to this date) proved, that he should be placed among the greatest male artists of all time. Creating a record such strongly influenced with jazz was a brave move, but it showed his willingness to evolve as a musician and to be the one in control of his creative proccess. ‘Feels good to be free'-, it does indeed, George.