JIMMY

GT (UK) - - MUSIC -

You’ll know this iconic face from our 30th an­niver­sary is­sue, if not his blink-andyou’ll-miss-it cameo in Pride. The for­mer Bron­ski Beat and The Com­mu­nards singer Jimmy Somerville is back with a brand new al­bum, with a brand new old sound.

Over the past few years, Jimmy has worked on low key re­leases, from three EPs in 2012 to last year’s stripped back pi­ano ren­di­tion of Small­town Boy, mark­ing 30 years of the gay an­them. Fast-for­ward to to­day, and we’re catch­ing up with him about how his lat­est record Homage came about.

“We were writ­ing and sud­denly it just popped into my head,” he says, “I re­ally should do a homage to disco. I thought, ‘I’m just go­ing to do it where I com­pletely try and recre­ate as close as pos­si­ble how it would’ve sounded.’”

Mission ac­com­plished. Homage is made of 12 up­beat tracks of cap­i­tal D.I.S.C.O. From opener Some Won­der to Over­load, it’s awash with funk gui­tars, brassy flour­ishes, string or­na­ments and those ever present soul­ful back­ing vo­cals sup­port­ing Jimmy’s well known and dis­tinc­tive falset­tos. It sounds or­ganic – and that’s not just down to the lack of syn­the­sis­ers.

“I re­alise through the process and how I’m writ­ing at the mo­ment, I find my­self in an in­dus­try and place where I want to be cre­ative, but I was al­ways plagued by lack of con­fi­dence and lack of abil­ity,” Jimmy ex­plains. “But ev­ery so of­ten there’s a point where I tap into some­thing com­ing from the heart and soul. I want to try and make some­thing that reaches out to peo­ple and taps into an emo­tional be­ing, place and per­son. I feel more in touch with an hon­est and emo­tive sound.”

Ba­si­cally, Jimmy has writ­ten the al­bum for him­self, and where he’s at right now. Which is a much hap­pier place, hav­ing wres­tled his demons and set­tled into a calm­ness that comes from be­ing older. There’s a dis­tinct lack of melan­choly on the al­bum, and even the po­lit­i­cally charged lyrics of songs like Trav­esty don’t be­tray the up­beat fo­cus of the al­bum.

“It’s al­most as though there are cer­tain lyrics where I’ve man­aged to cap­ture the essence of how I am po­lit­i­cally. There are so many things I look at and I think, ‘What the fuck is hap­pen­ing?’ But at the same time, there’s a part of me that thinks I’ll carry on re­gard­less. I’ll try and be as pos­i­tive, up and op­ti­mistic as pos­si­ble. If I can do that, I can break through a fear and un­cer­tainty, or else we get in a re­ally dark place.”

There are no dark places on Homage. Even tracks like Freak are sim­ply a re­jec­tion of het­eronor­ma­tiv­ity, in our words. In re­gards to us­ing the word ‘freak’ his were: “It’s a word that’s part of disco his­tory and that’s some­thing I seem to have done all the way through­out my ca­reer. I’ve taken cer­tain things, but be­cause of my sex­u­al­ity and pol­i­tics and my open­ness, to give it a cer­tain twist. I think we got to a stage within gay iden­tity, gay pol­i­tics and gay life of des­per­ately seek­ing the nor­mal. And what the fuck is nor­mal? It just doesn’t ex­ist.”

Hallelujah. Jimmy is on such a roll he’s al­ready writ­ten the next al­bum, such are his cre­ative en­er­gies right now. He’s def­i­nitely found his disco groove. “I’ve never been so cre­atively sure or con­fi­dent. It’s not an ar­ro­gant ego­tis­ti­cal con­fi­dence, it’s more, ‘This is right, this feels good.’ That’s the best way to de­scribe it.”

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