CJ Wildheart - 'Mable' (Self Released) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Ben Hughes   
Thursday, 22 May 2014 03:00

mablecoverIt's a good time to be a Wildhearts fan, don't you think? Us fans have been spoilt for choice recently with Ginger arguably at his creative peak and using PledgeMusic to its full advantage. Then of course there are the offshoots and related artists, from Hey! Hello! to Eureka Machines and on to Random Jon Poole, all have had great success with Pledges. The recent Wildhearts reunion shows with a set list to die for and a live CD on sale just go to show they are always going to keep coming back and as long as they do a Wildhearts fan like me will be a happy camper.


That now brings us to CJ. Ginger's guitar swinging partner in The Wildhearts has been M.I.A the last few years, taking self-imposed retirement from the music business. Turns out the man got a real job running a cleaning business in London, which he eventually grew tired of and sold. He got married and moved to Yorkshire where he now keeps chickens, writes music and makes his own Devilspit Hot Sauce.


Why am I telling you all this? Well it's all relevant: you see, not only is his first solo album in 7 years named after his favourite chicken, it is also the story of his life the past few years. It documents his last 3 years living in London, a time of change in his life, a journey of self discovery and his eventual return to music. What better way for the man to test the waters than with a Pledge Campaign all of his very own?


If CJ was at all worried that the fans wouldn't back his album he can now rest easy as 'Mable' easily hit its target and it's an absolute corker of an album to be honest with you. All the signs were there from the first taster we were given, the video for 'Going Down The Drain', was I surprised at how good that song was? Yes. Should I have been? Of course not!


'Mable' is an album consisting of 11 slabs of guitar driven Power Pop, yet two reflective and more subdued tracks bookend an album that is filled with joyous, catchy and upbeat music: 'Better Late Than Never' opens the album, a slow burner with tripped-out soothing vocals, and the self-explanatory 'Midlife Crisis' ends it with lush harmonies, singing a tale of new beginnings, finally growing up saying farewell to the past.


You see 'Mable' is a deeply personal and reflective album all over, as CJ opens his heart and soul to reveal feelings and situations many of us can relate to in one way or another. There are rants at the frustrations of working in the City in the likes of 'Next To You' and 'Kentucky Fried', sublime slabs of pop fuelled rock 'n' roll, the latter coming on Like Elvis Costello meets Squeeze on speed, great melodies and perfect harmonies to die for.


There's a cover by obscure Aussie band BlueJuice called 'Vitriol', it stays pretty true to the original but with more energy, loads of guitars and handclaps, it's snappy and sharp and it fits the album perfectly.


There's a new favourite song with every listen, just when you think the finest 3 minute pop moments have just happened along comes another. 'Always Believe Her' is a love song, pure and simple, a celebration of new found love. So many bands spring to mind here, from Silver Sun to Squeeze and on to Lit, it makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck every time, sublime perfection.


CJ even makes the darkest of subject matter sound upbeat, tales of insomnia and drugs. 'Devil' is a song about junkies, dealers and temptation delivered in a most upbeat way, there's even a Breaking Bad reference in there if you listen closely. Featuring one of the catchiest choruses since... well since the last 7 or 8 songs on this album actually.


There are more nods to Honeycrack than The Wildhearts here, I guess it fits somewhere in between, the focus being on catchy melodies and smart pop hooks. Did I mention the guitars? Don't worry, there's plenty of them. It is a solo album in every sense of the word, CJ wrote and played all the instruments here, his only help being some added background vocals I believe.


CJ has created the perfect soundtrack to the summer, we always knew he was a good songwriter and 'Mable' just confirms the fact that the boy has still got it!


If you needed an album to brighten your day just blast out the likes of 'Always Believe Her' or 'Kentucky Fried' and all your troubles will be forgotten and drowned out by the best damn melodies you will hear this year. Not many albums will touch 'Mable' this year as far as I am concerned. Don't leave it so longapproved image lrg 2013 next time, fella.