Just when you thought that Paul Hardcastle had run out of musical creativity, along he comes with ‘Hardcastle VIII’, a collection that finds him doing what he does best while throwing in a few surprises along the way. In fact it was two years ago with ‘The History of Paul Hardcastle 1984-2016’ that he offered up the chance to get reacquainted with his not inconsiderable discography yet with this latest project Hardcastle is confirming how, thirty four years into a hit strewn career, he is still looking to the future as well as never being afraid to take a glance at what has gone before.
A case in point from ‘Hardcastle VIII’ is ‘Cut Loose’ that can be also found on his 2016 album ‘Echoes Rising’. It is classic Hardcastle and then some although much the same can be said of the title cut from ‘Echoes Rising’ which he also includes here as another ‘throw-back track’ to previous recordings.
However, bringing things right back to 2018, and blazing a trail ahead of the September 28 release of ‘Hardcastle VIII’, comes the distinctly tasty ‘Amber Sky’ which, when the year-end ‘best of’ lists are compiled, is extremely likely to be on most of them. It is one of those tunes that on first listen seems ‘run of the mill’ yet twenty-four hours later, while walking the dog, you might just find yourself humming it.
It is also a fine example of the way Hardcastle effortlessly straddles the line between smooth jazz and chill and another number doing just that is the decidedly moody ‘Turn Down The Heat’. Elsewhere although sultry sax sets the mood for ‘Happy Go Lucky’ (which, for all the world, could be mistaken as being one of Hardcastle’s many compositions for television) it is the ethereal qualities of ‘Stay In The Moment’ that sets it apart.
Digging a little deeper into the gems that ‘Hardcastle VIII’ contain, the mid tempo ‘Dancing Galaxies’ checks a whole array of contemporary jazz boxes as does the appropriately titled ‘Hardcastle Boogie’ that luxuriates in a groove which would not be out of place on the frenetic dance floors of Ibiza.
The wonderfully brass enriched ‘Jam On This’ proves to be a deliciously edgy track and velvety smooth creations such as ‘Astral Vision’ and ‘Breaking The Ice’ turn out to be a joys to behold. However, in terms of surprises one need look no further than Hardcastle’s rendition of America’s 1971 classic ‘Horse With No Name’ for which daughter Maxine fronts up on vocals.
It’s a very interesting song from a very interesting CD.