29 February 2016 (released)
12 June 2016
Dawn to Dusk is an ambitious and politically charged statement of an album delivered with the temperance of a man who has seen the world change many times.
Founding member of London's Brand New Heavies has had a fairly scant discography since his departure from the acid jazz collective. His last record came out in 2005 and he had considered his time in the music business finished. However, events in the last few years, particularly the crisis in Crimea have drawn him out of his hiatus and inspired him to release Dawn to Dusk. Wellman's talents have not waned during his time off. The musician takes on all instrumental duties, calling on session singers to deliver his pointed lyrics.
The groove of the first track 'Lucy' is funky and danceable as if disco-funk trendsetters, Chic had grown up and gained a social conscience. 'Lucy' is written as an explanation of what humanity has become since the days of our 3.2 million-year-old common ancestor. It touches on our enduring violent nature and superficial obsessions. Like a groovy anthropology lesson. Vocalist Judy La Rose manages to take this heady piece and make it go down smooth.
'Probably Good', the lead single, is a smooth as silk number with a strain of melancholy. Far from angst, it's the sorrow for a world slowly losing its grip on the necessities that we should be protecting. The catchy chorus cooed out by hired gun, Tara sighs: “Love can’t change it/Faith won’t heal it/ Truth’s induced it and our law’s infused it/ God conceived it/ Zeal compelled it/Flaws produced it and our leaders deregulated it”.
Deeper in to the album, Wellman contributes spoken word passages of his own sociological musings which, on paper, are a bizarre juxtaposition with the music which is usually reserved to encourage a night of lovemaking. For the politically-minded musically, it is nice to hear this kind of message from someone who isn't screaming in your face. However, it is weird...
Jim Wellman's 2016 manifesto is definitely a combination that you don't hear every day. All the anthropological references and social critique bring to mind Roger Waters work from his last few Pink Floyd albums right through his solo career. And yet, it's so easy going and polished. It's not for everyone but if this style of analytical art is your bag, this may just fit you right.