Those of you expecting a rehash of Shy material on this Tony Mills solo album can leave the room now. No AOR on display here folks. In fact, this isn’t even a rock album. Now, before you all get up to leave the room, listen up, this still might appeal to those of you with a penchant for Jazz, MOR or west coast even. In Tony’s own words, this was a musical release of sorts. Away from rock, and more into styles of music which he wanted to experiment with. Similar to the way Steve Perry would’ve liked to explore his soul origins a la Sam Cooke, Mills gets the chance to delve into areas that obviously tickle his fancy, away from the hustle and bustle of big riffs and smashing drums.
The album features a bevy of singers rounding out a near gospel beat. The sax playing from Chris Aldridge is prominent, the album being described as Kenny G with words! Well, I wouldn’t go that far, because a track like ‘Airwaves’ is melodramatic acoustic fare. Closer to the smooth jazz you’d hear on a Bobby Caldwell album would be the title track ‘Freeway to the Afterlife’, a gorgeous track admittedly. Finding it difficult to leave the Lounge Club environment would be a track like ‘The Healer’, while ‘Don’t Hurt Me Anymore’ has west-coast written all over it. A couple of songs don’t quite hit the mark for me, the opener ‘Salvation In The City’ was one of those, the gospel/blues/ boogie combination a bit of a distraction for me.
The album is likeable, that there is no doubt. I still feel that Mill’s voice is an acquired taste, even in these calm surroundings. However, it is great to hear him sing along these lines, and in a lower register too. Just because it melds jazz and rock, don’t be thinking he is trying to emulate Michael Buble or anything, but that comparison would be obvious to many non-rock listeners or those unfamiliar with Mills’ work. For something different, try taking a trip on the ‘Freeway To The Afterlife’, and awaken your senses beyond the images and sounds provided by Mills material with Shy.
01. Salvation In The City
02. Somebody Up There
03. The Healer
04. Don’t Hurt Me Anymore
09. Freeway To The Afterlife
Tony Mills – vocals, bass
Paul Waring – guitar
Steve Harris – guitar
Tom Briscoe – guitar
Dave “Weazel” Pearce – percussion
Chris Aldridge – sax
Ashleigh Timmins – clarinet
Joe Basketts – piano, keyboards
Dave Pearce – drums
Dave Saylor – backing vocals
Jacquie Williams – backing vocals
Sue Clark – backing vocals
Tony Mills – Freeway To The Afterlife 2005
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