For artists of a certain career length different options present themselves; in the last decade plus, former “pop” stars – when that meant something – have had the chance to play for the deckchairs and Prosecco crowd at your local racecourse, or kick up their heels and wiggle on Radio 2. Greatest Hits all round then, but when it comes to the expense and risks of creating new music, the vast majority are happy not to dilute their catalogue, a decision which makes sense if you think you know your audience well enough.
Andrew Roachford emerged during the late 80’s a neo-soul boom, a movement which began with Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye sound tracking jeans ads and saw the band with his name leap into the public eye alongside contemporaries Terence Trent D’Arby and The Christians. Relative success came via a self-titled debut album going gold in 1988, but it wasn’t until last year that now a solo act, a hook up with a major label came again for him after being rediscovered playing with Mike & The Mechanics.
Creating an album in the twenties might have its pitfalls, but the Londoner remains hugely enthusiastic about both the process and his craft “I never wanted to be a fleeting popstar chasing momentary fame; I’ve always been in this for the music and for the long haul – and I’m still here”.
Recruiting members of Amy Winehouse’s band and former Duffy producer Jimmy Hogarth, Twice In A Lifetime is steeped perhaps understandably in classic R&B vibes, the singer’s gravelly, much travelled voice adding in a drop of old school grit on the Hammond-laced Won’t Think Twice, So Long and The Truth Hurts Too Much.
It’s a switch of focus that Roachford wasn’t expecting; “I never really considered myself just as a singer before. I always thought of myself as a musician who sings.” Wisely though not everything is meant to evoke late night heartache, opener High On Love and Gonna Be The One each upfront, brassy and bold, clear markers of a song writer determined not to be taken for granted in such a label conscious modern world.
What also stands out is what isn’t here. There’s only one collaboration with What We Had, where the similarly veteran Beverly Knight guests flawlessly on a Womack & Womack-esque tale of old passion seeking a new beginning. Other than that, there are few concessions to faddishness, pretty much every tune ruminating on love and how the passing of time shapes it.
This is one man sticking to what he does best, a way of working unaffected by notions of what constitute fresh ideas. For Andrew Roachford the opportunity to sample the twenty first century’s very different brand of celebrity will probably never knock, something Twice In A Lifetime almost revels in. A record made in the eye of the storm which is our current world, there’s an uplifting joy and sense of purpose to it everyone should get something from.