"Attack! Attack!" yelps Kevin Rowland as the martial funk-soul groove of "Now" heralds Dexys' first album in 27 years, a quarter of a century that has seen him stumble from arrogance to ignominy and back again.
One Day I'm Going to Soar finds his career barometer reading "fair" again, although the confessional, autobiographical elements that are its strongest aspect also serve as its Achilles' heel: the whole enterprise depends on how fascinated the listener is with Rowland's psyche, and after almost an hour spent repeatedly scratching the same few emotional itches, that fascination may wear perilously thin.
Following the opening upbeat statement of intent, both "Lost" and "Me" dive deeply into Kevin's favourite theme, revealing the deep insecurities and paranoiac suspicions that he believes have dogged his life and career. But, he admits regretfully, he felt forced to hide his sensitivity for fear of being ridiculed – which places the later cross-dressing cover shot of his My Beauty album in a cathartic context: I am what I am, take me as I come.
Having established the roots of his problem, subsequent songs deal with Rowland's honest disavowals of racial or cultural identity ("Nowhere Is Home"), monogamy ("Free"), and his ambivalent approach to the notion of love that is at the heart of Dexys' soul music. Again, he's scrupulously honest, admitting in "Incapable of Love" that he only knows how to use and hurt – but still carries a torch for the notion of romance itself; though significantly, it's these romantic sentiments that furnish the weakest tracks here, as if he knows they're bogus. Far better is the simple desire expressed in the swaggering funk groove of "She Got a Wiggle" – although even here, an essential part of the fantasy is that "she's mad about me" too. Ultimately, the waltzing croon "It's O.K. John Joe" closes the album with an acknowledgement that being a solitary spirit isn't a shortcoming, that "it's OK to be alone". A belated self-realisation, perhaps, but therapeutic nonetheless.
Download: Now; She Got a Wiggle; It's O.K. John JoeReuse content