Following the release of two albums in 2017: Times Infinity, Volume One and Times Infinity Volume Two; Murray A. Lightburn gave his first UK solo show at Old Church St Pancras, London. Whilst Lightburn performed no new solo material or solo material from his Canadian only release Mass: Light; based on the success of this London show (which he performed with a four-piece orchestra, whom he had only met that afternoon before the show); a solo album was always inevitable and led to the release of Hear Me Out.
Opening with Anew, we see a different side to The Dears frontman with sixties chilled, happy and soothing Burt Bacharach sound and production. Murray is attempting to move away vocally from his distinct Damon Albarn/Morrissey which contributed to The Dears acclaim. The lyrics are the antithesis of the production with Murray opening up about his own struggles of “overcoming an ocean of rage”; but love and compassion are found too.
Centre Of My Universe follows with Motown style production similar to Diana Ross & The Supremes, Stop! In The Name of Love (albeit a few BPM’s slower) which then leads into the most distinctly sounding The Dears song off Hear Me Out called To the Top. Whilst there are similarities to 22: The Death of All the Romance, it is more upbeat, instant, without the haunting strings and Natalia Yanchak vocals whilst adding Hank Marvin Style guitar riffs. The sixties Motown theme continues with I Give Up which provides delightful resemblances to Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Marvin Gaye and The Four Tops all under Lighburn’s genius style of production and arrangements.
For the majority of the latter half of Hear Me Out there is a departure from the soulful, Motown inspired RNB theme Lightburn undertook. Murray’s vocal arrangements feel more comfortable and at ease here. Belleville Blues resembles the softer side to the Gang of Losers LP. Changed My Ways sounds similar to Gruff Rhys’ Babelsberg and Coldplay’s Don’t Panic with Murray proving himself as a devoted man of courage in the lyrics: “You know I’ve always been by your side” and “Questioning devotion here my love is still unbound I’ll never let you suffer I am like no other”. Fan Fiction (Ballad of a Genius) follows and is influenced by The Beatles Here There and Everywhere and You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away. Despite the soulful, mellow, yet uplifting melodies, the lyrics tell a story of the tragedy of personal loneliness by not allowing artificial, disingenuous people into one’s life.
The best is left to last. I’m Not Broken and When They See Me set the standard. The infectious saxophone to I’m Not Broken arouses the dark haunting elation experienced on classic The Dears songs. When They See Me is the perfect playout track. Opening with just the guitar, Lightburn reminisces of his sadder experiences of childhood with accurate photographic recall and how it led to “genuine despair”.
Murray naturally knows how to develop this and perfects with strings in The Dears style as well as saxophone, flutes and bells. Despite the sad nature of this song; the saddest part is when this play out song finishes. Hear me Out finishes reaching a mellow and melancholy crescendo.