Album Review: Luke Mornay – Twenty Five Ten (Mornay Music)


He might not be the household name Mark Ronson is, but Luke Mornay’s resumé is just as artful. Even arguably more far reaching. There are the remixes he melded for starlets such as Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams, the songs he crafted for The Killers, and the songs he wrote himself in his spare time. Here, unveiling ‘Twenty Five Ten‘, Mornay unveils an tapestry every bit as complex – but often as beautiful – as the lives an enforced lockdown has shown us.

Recorded with a series of collaborators, Mornay’s album provides an emotional companion to the
world pivoting into dense uncertainty. From ‘The System’ to ‘Lose The Plot’, the work showcases a lyrical paranoia, more in keeping with the everyday ennui of our imposed lockdown than the conflicts curated by politicians of varying persuasions. Mornay provides a vast soundscape (some of it veering into cyberpunk, Blade Runneresque territories), but never at the expense of the vocalists in question. And when the album holds luminaries of Kevin Godley’s calibre, to do so would be more than maddening. It would be an insult!

Mornay (one of the more original producers of his generation) treats the vocalists with tremendous reverence. New Sounds readers might be most familiar with Godley’s mellifluous vocal style – and their collaboration is every bit as vital as the esoteric word paintings Godley composed with 10cc – but every vocalist has merit. There’s Nick Tart’s shrill, soulful voice, not forgetting James Atkin, the erstwhile EMF frontman barrelling through “Gravity” with brisk, even braggadocious abandon; and Roxy Horner, a model turned chanteuse, heard on the jaunty “Shady”. Each and every singer could have carried the entire album by themselves, but the diversity- earmarking artists from Brisbane, Tel Aviv and Dublin- only helps to aid the album.

“Music To Picture” shows an artist even more bohemian than the Dance Pop genre he flaunts; florid centrepiece “Thank You” demonstrates a lush production style that’s as cryptic as it is effortlessly commercial; then there’s “Into My Heart” , a love-lorn ballad pleasantly reminiscent of the Chaka Khan radio anthems heard in the eighties. The chorus heavy “Party On Sunset” offers listeners a respite from the darkness, before “Never Looking Back” picks up the narrative and creates a defiant portrait of survival in the wake of great upheaval. Mornay, who says the record was written in homage to his late mother, is present on every track, tailoring the flavours, feelings and fortunes to the beneficiaries of the topic in question.

It all rushes towards that most far reaching of climaxes on the piercing, probing meisterwerk “Calenture”. A track this writer pegs as the album’s strongest. Capturing the doom that has fed into the work as much as he has to it, the song envelopes into an instrumental suite searching for that most inspired of currents. It moves like a wave, thundering between the soft and rocky turns that a vessel must voyage on. And with the arrival of a shrill falsetto the song ends, not with a Wagnerian Hammond, but a note of succinct, stoic style. Mornay says it all in one track, but luckily for the listener, there are seventeen others to accompany it!

Twenty Five Ten is released via Mornay Music on Friday 26 Feb.