Simply Red: Big Love review – easy-listening epitaphs from Mick Hucknall

It’s been three decades since Simply Red’s debut, and Mick Hucknall has admitted their 11th album may be their last.

With this in mind, a wizened nostalgia hangs above this blue-eyed soul – the songs are smooth and sentimental, like easy-listening epitaphs. Wistful laments are nothing new for the group, and their unbridled sincerity remains consistent. But on Big Love these emotions sound abrupt. From Love Wonders to Love Gave Me More and the title track, there’s not a wealth of imagination at play – although Dad, a tribute to Hucknall’s late father, has a boyishly endearing simplicity. Hucknall’s voice, so full of warmth and tenderness, sounds naturally ravaged by the years – not quite a death growl, but certainly up against some strain. Thankfully, however, the famed lothario’s libido still lurks amid the schmaltz: “All the feeling’s so right,” he sings on the steamy, funk-lite Tight Tones, “on this hot horny night.”

Powered by article was written by Harriet Gibsone, for The Guardian on Thursday 28th May 2015 21.30 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010