Gary Kemp’s hits include the timeless ballad True, inspired by his unrequited love for Clare Grogan, dancefloor favourite Gold and the band’s first smash, New Romantic anthem To Cut A Long Story Short. It’s one heck of a scoresheet.
Four decades on, Kemp is back with his second solo album, the follow-up to 1995’s Little Bruises, Gary’s way of dealing with his divorce from Sadie Frost.
The poignant opening ballad In Solo is about an urban couple whose lives are exactly that – solo. They’re together but alone. Kemp’s piano gives way to swelling orchestration and a tastefully searing guitar break.
A Rumour Of You moves the mood up a gear. It’s funky with an edge of menace.
Then the creepiness gives way to the reflective Waiting For The Band, Kemp recalling his teenage self at Hammersmith Odeon, with his painted face and “clockwork gang”, waiting for Bowie to play on the night he killed off Ziggy Stardust. Theo Travis’s sax break comes with an echo of archive fan voices.
Ahead Of The Game is more upbeat, with a late 70s’ pop soul vibe and terrific fluid guitar solo from Kemp.
This is smart, mature pop, thoughtful and sometimes moving.
Guest artists sparkle throughout the album, from Lily Carassik’s trumpet on I Remember You to Roger Taylor’s drumming on Too Much – Kemp’s reaction to the bad news that keeps afflicting us of late, making even the most optimistic feel occasionally helpless.
The Rolling Stones’ keyboardist Matt Clifford plays French horn on three songs, while bassists include Richard Jones (The Feeling) and some chap called Martin Kemp.
The result is slick, impressive and welcome.
To cut a long story short, Gary should do this more often.
“Free and fair elections are the foundation of who we are as a state and a nation. Secure, accessible, fair elections are worth the threats. They are worth the boycotts as well as the lawsuits,” Kemp said at a press conference Saturday.
“I want to be clear: I will not be backing down from this fight, and neither are the people who are here with me today,” he added.
The comments marked Kemp’s latest rebuke of MLB over its Friday announcement that the July 13 game would be taken out of Georgia over the law he signed last month.
The new restrictions include limits on ballot drop boxes, shorter periods in which Georgia residents can apply for mail-in ballots and new photo ID requirements for absentee voting.
Democrats have come out swinging against the new law, saying it amounts to voter suppression and pressuring private companies to speak out against it.
MLB went the furthest of any private group, announcing it would pull its annual All-Star Game directly in response to the new measures.
Rob Manfred, the MLB commissioner, said in a statement that the decision was made after conversations with teams and players and that moving the game is “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport.”
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” Manfred said.
The MLB draft will also be moved out of Georgia.
Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey has also called the restrictions “unacceptable” and “a step backwards,” and Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said the law “includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives.”
Kemp on Saturday ramped up his criticism of companies that have come out against the law, name-checking several that have hammered the new restrictions.
Kemp and other Republicans have maintained that the new law is necessary to ensure election security, though no widespread fraud was found after three certifications of Georgia’s election results in November.
“There were reasons to try to figure out a better way, a more accessible way and a more secure way for us to hold elections, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We shouldn’t apologize for wanting to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” he said.
The burgeoning private sector criticism is reminiscent of the backlash to a 2016 law in North Carolina that blocked cities from allowing transgender people to use public bathrooms that align with their gender identities. A flood of detractors and cancellations of major events forced the Tar Heel State to backtrack.
However, Kemp said he does not intend to revoke the law, even if more events are scrapped in Georgia.
“I can tell you that we will not waiver. For anybody that’s out there who’s thinking that any kind of snowball effect is going to have any kind of effect on me, it is not,” he said. “We have worked in good faith with the business community, with the chambers of commerce, with some of these same companies that have flip-flopped on this issue.”