There’s a lot to take in with this advance track from Simple Minds’ forthcoming album Big Music. Its crisp modernity. Its heart-opening lyric. And, maybe most of all, the way that the big-voiced Jim Kerr holds back.
“Honest Town” heralds Simple Minds’ first new album in five years, due on November 3, 2014 — along with a big 2015 tour. But, more than that, it sounds like someone reevaluating everything that came before. If you’ve come looking for another version of their career-making 1980s hit “Don’t You Forget About Me” — or even the deliriously off-kilter “Promised You a Miracle” — you won’t find it.
Co-written with the Chvrches’ Iain Cook, “Honest Town” instead joins Kerr on a surprisingly modulated journey into the depth of emotion surrounding his mother’s death — specifically through the course of a drive across Glasgow’s south side, even as her health badly faltered. The images that rose in their car windows and then faded, including his childhood home and the factory where she once worked, are punctuated by his mom’s simple assessment of the place where he grew up. His, she says, was an honest town — and he’s produced a song to match.
Elsewhere, Simple Minds (featuring Kerr’s fellow original member Charlie Burchill on guitar, as well as early-1980s addition Mel Gaynor on drums) promise something far more expected in the anthem “Let the Day Begin,” dedicated to the late Call frontman Michael Been. Co-producers for Big Music include Steve Hillage, who also worked on the group’s 1981 studio efforts Sons And Fascination and Sister Feelings Call. Kerr says they return to themes familiar to any who bought 1980’s Empires and Dance, as well.
For now, though, there’s something more unexpected, something more personal — and something as involving as anything Simple Minds has ever done.
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