Smooth, soothing, and swaying soft rock/R&B rhythms and melodies mark this latest project by the very recognizable Simply Red. Mick Hucknall’s inimitable vocals are as stylish as always. This fresh offering of tunes is catchy and smart. Hucknall is one of the few songwriters who actually give serious thought to relating to their audiences with their lyrics, and it’s no secret what he does to the ladies through those lyrics. Very comfortable album. Hucknall’s departure in 2001 from Warner Records to found his own label was a grand and lucrative move, as the label, SimplyRed.com, has earned the crooner much appreciation and many awards, including the Music Week Award for UK Achievement in 2004.
Stay has the familiar feel that has the widest of ranges--from the smooth vocals and light rhythms of say, the 60s, to some of the more mellow U2 cuts. Track 2, by now quite well known from its significant amount of airplay, sort of saunters up to you with its sultry slide while Hucknall delivers his trademark lyrical caress. It certainly doesn’t disappoint Simply Red fans, or any fans of good, well-conceived compositions, for that matter. The title track is among my favorites here. A snappy, passionate soft rocker with major vocals, both lead and background, it’s just what one wants at this point in the album. Very well placed, and it does the trick. "Oh! What a Girl," pops out as another mover with slightly harder-edged, more definable rock chops. Tastefully introduced horns add to the ambience. In a word, "wow!" Then, we get a rough-riding, hard-hitting blues offering with "Good Times Have Done Me Wrong." So appropriate for Hucknall’s able vocals. The album ends with a piece, "Little Englander," that reminds me of Billy Joel’s "Piano Man," but with some little tykes offering backing vocals. Haven’t heard that much enthusiasm in a kid’s vocals since Pink Floyd’s "Another Brick in The Wall." Cute.
After a few successes and some musical years under the belt, some veteran artists just muddle through on projects and hope for enough of a contribution to keep them off musical life support. Hucknall/Simply Red proves here again that there’s a lot more gas in that tank, and the ride on the high road of quality will continue for some time to come.