Just because the lyrics are deeply personal though doesn’t mean Toomey has stopped talking with his hands. ‘Ascension’ is full of delicious riffs and licks, and the guitar work which flows over and above the melody line of ‘Superman’, for example, is close to divine (while the short early break and main solo are straight out of the Bitches Sin songbook). Toomey has lost none of his edge, although here the songs frame the solos, whereas in the ‘day job’ often the reverse is correct.
Nothing is fully ‘solo’ unless you play the whole kit ‘n’ caboodle yourself, though, and the rest of the band have never really received the accolades they deserve. Bassist Dan McNamee and drummer Steve Turton combined are a rock-solid backbone, Turton in particular making his presence well known without ever overplaying, and David A. Mills is a great singer full-stop: his performance in ‘Very Soon Everyone’s Leaving’ – Toomey’s first solo single which puts in an appearance in the album’s middle order –is little short of spellbinding. And weaving his magic as well as adding guitars and keyboards is Toomey’s long-term collaborator and friend and producer extraordinaire Chris Tsangarides.
Highlights? Well, there are eight of them on this eight-track collection, but I’m a sucker for the aforementioned ‘Superman’ as well as the groove that underpins ‘Never Alone’. And last but by no means least, the album’s set closer and title track is a powerful tour de force, driven by Mills’ husky, evocative vocals, a repetitive refrain that’s impossible to shake from your head and an understated guitar solo that Ritchie Blackmore in his glory days would have been proud of. At six-and-a-half minutes the song truly dominates the album anyway, but it’s one of those tracks that you wish would just go on for ever.
There is nothing not to like here. Trust me on this. For more information go to www.iantoomey.com
© John Tucker June 2015