Here we go again with another release from the artist better known to the general public as Terence Trent D’Arby, but of course these days better known to those around him as Sananda Maitreya. At the time of writing, the album is only available as a pre-order and the folks who do so get a digital download of the entire project a whole month ahead of its official release. Some artists out there seem to know exactly when to draw the line, but clearly not this dude, as he’s now decided to release a 3 CD set of, well… mostly the same damn songs, perhaps with slightly different arrangements. There’s supposed to be some kind of concept going on but at this point, that’s been completely lost. At least by this particular listener. Here are some thoughts on Disc 1. Mind you it’s only very early stages at the time of writing, so thoughts may change over time:
Questions & Ulcers: Just a short instrumental piece to get things going. Very Oriental sounding and unique. Almost like the curtain is about to be opened before the show.
Nymphony: Mostly an A Capella piece where the vocals are backed by the sounds of the ocean and a few seagulls either chirping or squawking, it depends on how you describe their sound. At any rate, it’s classic TTD/Sananda. If only he could do a whole album like this. “Because the sphinx he winks at you.” If that lyric is any indication that “Nymphony” was supposed to be on that particular album, then its omission is baffling because it could’ve made it so much better.
New World Forming: What more needs to be said here? It’s a fantastic pop tune where the vocals are really coming at you full speed ahead. Very melodious and acoustic. It’s actually one of the first older songs on this project that was given away for free back in 2003 and held over from the “Wildcard” album. So glad that it’s finally being included on a proper release.
She’s My Baby: Back when this one was recorded, he was nowhere near calling himself “Sananda.” In fact it was on the B-Side of his “Delicate” single back in 1993, or one of the bonus tracks if you will. Most likely written about an ex-lover who “Howls at the moon but spits at the sun.” And yes, she drives him all kinds of crazy. Again, it’s brilliant. Very creatively written, especially when he’s trying to describe how she makes him feel.
Glad She’s Gone: Another one that he put out for free back in the early days of his website. Obviously, this one is the aftermath, he’s glad his woman is gone for good. There’s a flute all the way through this one that gives it that floating, hippie type of vibe. Of course, his vocals are heavenly. On a personal note, when he gave this one away I also put it alongside “She’s My Baby.”
U Cried A River: Like mouldy milk, the vocals on this one, especially when he sings about chopping the moon in half, are VERY off. If you can look beyond that, then it may be a tolerable song. If not, well, you’d better hit that skip button. And real quick! Apparently this one was given away for free as well at one point.
It’s Been A Long Time: The first duet on the album between Sananda and an Italian singer by the name of Luisa Corna. On the positive tip, the finger snaps and the vocals in the intro are kinda cool, as is the overall jazzy vibe. Negatively, the lyrics are, as usual quite silly, i.e.: “I’m feeling like a cat in the rain, I’m pretty wet but I can’t complain.” And clearly, Luisa sounds a hell of a lot better when she sings in her native tongue. Or maybe she just needs a better arrangement. At any rate, it’s onto the next song.
Limp Dick Blues: OK, he was obviously trying to have a laugh when he wrote and performed this one. It has lots of puns in it: “My hammer had me screwed, it used to hang down to the top of my shoes.” Not to mention his backing vocals singing, “Get it up, get it up.” Apart from that, it’s just nonsense! Especially the title. Come on now.
Mid Life Crisis Blues: On the positive tip, the A Capella vocals at the very beginning are great. Unfortunately after that it becomes quite excruciating to listen to, as his vocals turn quite screechy before you know it. Not to mention everything else about this song that’s bad, like the playing of all of the instruments. I mean, I tried to get into this, but… nah.
Country Changes: He seems to have somewhat of an affinity with the country western Banjo sound these days. And this is another one of those types of songs, which actually ain’t that bad. Again, he’s got the puns happening: “The Sabotage Mahal is full of rooms.” He keeps repeating the phrase, “Assisted Living,” which gives it a nice hook. By the way, speaking of which, the next song is….
Assisted Living: “But I had whiskey yet to piss.” Really? Uh… why? Apart from that, it seems to be a continuation of the previous track, hence its inclusion alongside it. Admittedly, both songs flow together really well… even if you’re sitting there thinking: “Didn’t I just hear this? What’s going on?”
Passing The Torture: Just a short interlude, which more or less involves him talking to himself, or playing two different characters and then imitating some kind of Native Indian or Buddhist/Hare Krishna type of chant, which is most likely supposed to add to the concept of the album.
Hiawatha: What is this? A Christmas Carol? A National Anthem? Whatever it was supposed to be, it starts off all nice and calm, making mention of “Prometheus” and “Pandora” but then of course he really goes for it vocally and again, it becomes excruciating to listen to!! Holy shit balls this is BAD! NEXT!
She’ll Tell Me: The vocals on this one definitely seem to fluctuate between very calm and incredibly screechy and LOUD! Why is this bloke so inconsistent? OK, onto the next one.
I Don’t Know How To Love (Prometheus): Luisa Corna joins him once again and this time, they’ve decided to cover “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar.” It’s a little hard to believe that somebody of Sananda’s generation would incorrectly assume that this is a typical, average, every day run of the mill love song, because if you look at the movie, it’s quite clear that the characters of Mary Magdalene and Judas are singing about JESUS. So, in that respect, Sananda has clearly missed the whole point of the song. Furthermore, it’s VERY BADLY played and it’s full of screechy vocals, which are guaranteed to make your ears bleed. Which means, there’s no other way to describe it other than an absolute atrocity. NEXT!!!
If Joni Calls: Given that there are lyrics about Sananda being in “Zooathalon,” it’s presumed that this song was supposed to go on that album, or maybe it was recorded during those sessions. Again, Luisa Corna joins him and he even throws in the odd Italian phrase, “I’m talking to Othello” and “I like it a lot.” Not bad. Probably because it’s another A Capella one.
Suicide Song: Apart from the A Capella vocals in the intro, which are nice to listen to, it’s just stupid to write a song about suicide. Unless of course, he’s tried to write an anti suicide song, which I fail to see. Again, it’s very badly played. Thankfully, Disc One ends here. And so does this review.
Verdict: Overall, there are 12 songs on this album that he recorded either as TTD, or while he was in the very early stages of his name change. If you take those songs, combine them with the seven TTD songs from his previous album and then add the A Capella pieces from this set, then you have a much more solid, cohesive effort. Furthermore, it baffles me that the people who follow this man’s career so intently fail to see that his music is badly presented, or they just don’t care. At any rate, he needs to hook back up with his old musicians and producers because on his own he’s very inconsistent. Okay, so he’s really bad!!! And so is the majority of this album.