Former front man of INXS, Jon Stevens, returns with vocal assuredness, even if the lyrics don’t always live up.

Across 11 tracks, the album, titled Starlight, offers easy listening rock with the blues thrown in for good measure. The former member of the Eurythmics, Dave Stewart, who produced the album hardly misses a melodic beat.
Whether the listener is going for a guitar driven thrill ride on ‘Devil in My Heart’, enjoying the soothing piano organ combo of ‘Something Bout You’, or pausing for thought with the down-beat tones of title song, ‘Starlight’; Stuart and Stevens have a compelling sound for the occasion.

Lead-off tracks ‘Hold on’ and ‘Oh Lord’ get proceedings off to a promising start. The first, harmonica inflected offering strives for universal connection with the catchall theme of holding on through life struggles. Meanwhile, the second invests fully in the blue sound, carried off by Stevens rich vocal performance.

Stevens’ vocal prowess is further showcased through the frenetic ‘Devil in My Heart’. From the hard Rock-esque yell to the energetic grit within the voice; Stevens expertly conveys the distinct impression that things could come off the rails at any moment. Appropriate, as the song starts with the story of a man who upon discovering his cheating partner, shoots her paramour dead.
There’s enough scope in the artists’ repertoire for happy-go-lucky chemistry with, Vanessa Amorosi (’Something Bout You’) one minute and then sombre reflection in the next (‘Starlight’).

The greatest compliment that can be paid to the performance of the album is that the Australian singer has a voice that carries each track, with energy, soul and warmth. Even as the lyrics occasionally overstep the line towards irritatingly cheesy, his dulcet tones are still a welcome sound to the ear.

Nevertheless, if a listener does choose to lend their undivided attention to the lyrics, they are likely to find tracks, ‘All About the People’, ‘One Way Street’ and ‘Scars’ a bit too saccharin to swallow.

All in all, though, Jon Stevens’ latest solo project displays strong musicianship with a vocal talent to match.