After 22 years fronting Shihad, Jon Toogood has finally gotten around to recording a solo album. Well, that’s what it was originally going to be until he enlisted the help of a few friends…Shayne Carter, Anika Moa, Julia Deans, Ladi6, Tiki Taane and Warren Maxwell to name a few. Now the project has a name, “The Adults”. As the name would suggest, this is a more mature sound than would have been made by Shihad and Toogood alluded to that in this quote: “As a 39-year-old dude who has been involved in music all his life, its music that I would listen to”.
When I first heard a few of the tracks from The Adults I was a bit underwhelmed. It felt like this might be a case of the whole being less than the individual parts. But after seeing the band…well Toogood, Carter and Deans…playing their first gig at JB Hi-Fi, I became more enthusiastic. Even though they only played for 20 minutes or so, they looked like they were enjoying each other’s musical company and, more important, they sounded great, particularly Carter.
So, what of the album? Toogood appears on all 12 tracks. Four tracks are primarily collaborations with Shayne Carter, three are with Julia Deans, and two each are with Anika Moa and Ladi6. In case you’re counting, one track, Reunite, was written solely by Toogood.
The album kicks off with a thunderous boom. One Million Ways features a drum sound that could have been sampled from Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham (specifically from When The Levee Breaks). Written by Toogood and Carter, it sounds the most like a Shihad track of the 12. Next is A Part Of Me, written by Jon and Anika. It’s an urgent, keyboard-driven tune (Anika on piano) with Toogood cranking out a throbbing bass line. Jon sings but Anika throws in a few BVs. Good stuff.
Next is the first of three tunes with Julia Deans. A New Beginning is less rock-oriented and more atmospheric than the previous tracks. Jon and Julia sing together and their voices blend well. It’s a welcome musical departure from the basic rock associated with Shihad.
Highlights of the album include Nothing To Lose, written by Toogood and Ladi6. Ladi6 takes over the vocals and Shayne Carter works himself into a lather on his guitar. By the end of the track he’s really taking off. Everyday I Wake Up is another excellent collaboration with Deans and one of the catchiest tunes on the album. It’s followed by the menacing Long Way Off. Carter gets to show his stuff again, but this time on the keyboard.
Actually, there’s not a bad track on the album. Anniversary Day is a sweet duet between Toogood and Deans and Sleep Me Tight is a stripped down affair with just Jon and Anika playing and singing. It features a classic Anika Moa melody.
Possibly the only misstep is the final track, Please Wake Me, but that’s only because it goes on for a bit too long. At almost 8 minutes in duration it could have used some editing.
It’ll be interesting to hear these songs being played live when The Adults go on tour in July. Judging by their brief set on Queen Street, these songs will only sound better live.
Click here to listen to Everyday I Wake Up from The Adults: