Having arrived as a windswept troubadour from central casting with his massive 2014 hit Hold Back The River (a kind of worse Mumford & Sons), English singer-songwriter Bay took a sharp detour into rock swagger on his second album, Electric Light.
After that failed to recoup as well as his debut, Chaos and Calm, this third album belies its title and takes a jump backwards into the overemoting and unemotional rock ballads that first made his name.
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The serious young man in the black fedora always seemed to have been dreamt up by a committee in the conference room of a major record label and this hyperventilating set of surging angst rock and wet wipe balladry will do nothing to convert cynics - despite his strong voice and knack for tasty guitar riffs. And be warned, the hat is back.
31-year-old Bay's designer authenticity has two gears - thrashing, elemental guitar rock and tender torch songs. Recent single Give Me The Reason - a co-write with Co Down singer Foy Vance - is an attempt to recapture the epic widescreen excess of early success, Nowhere Left To Go wilts with the first of many Hallmark card sentiments ("I want to trace my hands across your freckled constellations") and while Save Your Love has an undeniably pretty melody, it’s very generic stuff.
When he does dial it back on the likes of Right Now (which struggles not to sound too much like More Than Words by Extreme), he’s sucked back into a black hole of bombast. The best thing here is mid-tempo rocker Love Don't Hate Me, but even it's torpedoed by Bay's fondness for clunky lyrics.
Bespoke and tastefully played, Leap is all surging forward momentum and stentorian angst signifying nothing.
Alan Corr @CorrAlan2