Alone In The Universe
Nothing has changed. So much so that when the opening track, When I Was A Boy, begins its cautious start, the piano line almost begs you to sing, “Midnight on the water…I saw the ocean’s daughter…” etc…
Sure, it now says “Jeff Lynne’s ELO” but Electric Light Orchestra has always belonged to Jeff Lynne. Argue your case all you like for Roy Wood this, or even Bev Bevan that, but it’s Lynne’s show. Always was.
And after covering his old hits under the ELO guise it’s good to hear him at least writing again, this new album of songs feels very similar to the Jeff Lynne solo album from a couple of years ago; feels in fact very similar to what a “Volume 4” by The Travelling Wilburys might have sounded like. (For all of the obvious Lynne sound here this is as much Jeff Lynne’s Travelling Wilburys as it is Jeff Lynne’s ELO, for the most part anyway).
Fans could have either response – deciding this is some revelation or being upset that Lynne is (yet again) repeating himself. Either call is correct.
One Step At A Time feels the most ELO of everything here, channels that clever way Lynne had with merging prog and pop into one accessible beam. Elsewhere we get the Ringo-esque drum fills Lynne loves and those Harrison-aping melodies. He’s still writing his best efforts at Beatles songs, he’s still placing space in and around the big, wide choruses.
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 15 years between this and Zoom. It’s hard to know whether you need this or not. But it’s good. Very good. Even if it’s sometimes just a tad lazy and – always – very, very safe. It has its charms. It’s distinctly ELO/Lynne charms. If you were immune you’ll stay that way, if you fell under the spell you’ll want a little soft-shoe shuffle with this one too. Well, why not?