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Jeff Lynne's ELO: Alone in the Universe

2001 was the last time Jeff Lynne resurrected the ELO banner for the mildly successful release Zoom, and here we are 14 years later and the spaceship once again rises in the form of Alone in the Universe. This time around, it's basically a one-man show, with Lynne handling all vocals and instruments, save for some backing vocals by daughter Laura Lynne on a few tunes. It's also a fairly brief album by modern standards, clocking in at barely over 30 minutes.

As long as you aren't expecting the second coming of Out of the Blue, A New World Record, Face the Music, or Discovery, then Alone in the Universe can certainly be a lot of fun. Missing from the sound are the sweeping orchestrations and strings, which were prominent on all the early recordings, replaced by a sparser pop sheen, with Lynne layering in keyboards and guitars in a way that will recall some of ELO's '80s output, Zoom, or George Harrison's last few albums before his passing. Lynne's voice has held up well, and his mastery of the studio allows him to create lush tapestries of lead & backing vocals on classic sounding fare like "When I Was a Boy", the dreamy numbers "Love and Rain" & "All My Life", the more upbeat "Ain't it a Drag", and the engaging single "One Step at a Time". There's also a decent amount of crisp guitar work to be found on Alone in the Universe, especially on "I'm Leaving You", as Lynne's guitar lines moan and soar over sumptuous keyboards and vocals. The title cut offers up dreamy atmosphere, a floating pop ditty with swirling synths, guitar arpeggios, and yearning vocals, easily a track that will appeal to fans of ELO's '70s output.

In addition to missing the strings, some may find the absence of founder Bev Bevan's thunderous drums as the other gap on Alone in the Universe. Though Lynne does an admirable job, much of the drum work is somewhat sterile and lacks energy, something the powerhouse Bevan could have certainly brought to the table, but he hasn't worked with Jeff in many, many years, so that doesn't appear to be an option anytime soon. Longtime keyboard player Richard Tandy, who was in tow for 2014s Hyde Park appearance, is also absent here, but he has been helping out with recent live shows as Lynne's right hand man on piano. In summary, Alone in the Universe is a fine collection of songs that should bring a smile to the face of any longtime ELO fan, and while it won't make you forget any of their classic material anytime soon, it shows that Jeff Lynne is still a master craftsman when it comes to writing memorable pop music with a flair for the dramatic.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1) When I Was a Boy
2) Love and Rain
3) Dirty to the Bone
4) When the Night Comes
5) The Sun Will Shine on You
6) Ain't it a Drag
7) All My Life
8) I'm Leaving You
9) One Step at a Time
10) Alone in the Universe

Added: November 27th 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1597
Language: english

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