Johnny Borrell - Borrell 1

‘Borrell 1’ isn’t a great album. It’s probably not even good, but it’s definitely committed.

Label: Mercury

Rating: 5

Heroic. That’s what Johnny Borrell is. In the face of adversity he’s unrelenting. His self confidence never wavers; his belief is unshakeable. He’s back, but he’s not backing down.

Others would have taken a solo career as a fresh start; an opportunity for a clean slate. To tone things down, to play it safe. Not Johnny. However many have taken exception, Borrell is clearly convinced he knows best. The first work under his own name most certainly isn’t a return to Razorlight’s ‘glory’ days - instead it’s an expansion on where they may have been going next - round the twist.

And this is where the trouble lies. ‘Borrell 1’ isn’t a great album. It’s probably not even good, but it’s definitely committed. The titles of its songs set the scene perfectly. ‘Power To The Woman’ or ‘Pan European Supermodel Song’ may cause rubbernecking from their names alone, but musically they more than live up to their madcap billing. Like Dexys Midnight Runners coated in Reggae Reggae sauce, Johnny’s been feelin’ the rhythm.

But here’s the thing; by being so self assured, Borrell has made a record that’s genuinely interesting. There’s no chance of him bottling out. At no point is there compromise or a fear of looking ridiculous. More baffling than it is enjoyable, often it manages to be both.

All of which leaves a complicated juxtaposition. ‘Borrell 1’ is at no point a record to recommend. Musically confused, frequently lyrically painful (closer ‘Erotic Letter’ needs to be heard to be believed), its ego is so overpowering it ends up as a sweet relief against a backdrop of po-faced, fence sitting peers. Not that it matters what anyone else thinks. Johnny knows he’s right in the end.