That Joe Payne. Or is it ‘that’ Joe Payne, but never just ordinary Joe Payne. The showman puts on a show on the grand opulence of By Name. By Nature.
Release Date: 7th August 2020
Label: independent TJPCD001
Format: DL / CD / vinyl
Joe Payne – “see – the thing about me is, I’m too insecure.” An opening gambit, whether on record or a dramatic show opening that speaks volumes.
His association with The Enid for five years set him up with his hard-earned Prog credentials (top male vocalist two years running). A similar story to Ms Amy Birks (PROG award winner with The Beatrix Players) who appears on Love (Not The Same). Guilty by association some would say, but it’s opened some new doors.
However, don’t (really) expect anything too proggy on By Name. By Nature. It’s been a long time in gestation and monitors a challenging few years. One of those records you’d label as cathartic; an outpouring, an album needing to be made to clear the decks.
So yes, at times it’s deeply personal and very revealing. You can feel the discomfort yet admire the decision to go balls out with the confessional. Take a pin and stab at pages in the lyric book and you’ll never be far from the words worthless, dumb, bad loser, lazy, weak, deluded, loneliness and you’re hoping that he’s emerged from this album in a better place.
Despite the apparent lack of self-confidence, this is an inspirational and aspirational record. Joe Payne may have searched his soul but he’s presented the findings in a grand vision, milking the Mariah Carey/Axl Rose range he’s blessed with.
The element of musical theatre comes into play in full effect on the overture-like nature of the opening few minutes that sees Joe showboating outrageously on the title track. A sweeping grandeur that shifts gear into the self-deprecating thrust of being a”Payne by name, Payne by nature.”
Those first musical impressions of opulent Euro pop with classical crossover appeal, all showgirls, spotlights and sequins, lift the mood, putting on a bold face as he addresses hard hitting lyrical content. The touching piano ballad on In My Head (“nothing’s under the bed”) fights more demons in an chorally enhanced emotional appeal
At the core is an underlying vulnerability, like the cliched tears of a clown and unless you’ve been there you just can’t imagine Joe fronting an outfit with such strong prog rock reputation like The Enid
The thought occurs that the spirit of George Michael surfaces in the Bond theme-a-like Love (Not The Same) where Amy Birks adds her contrasting low key presence. Meanwhile, Joe portrays his Dick Dastardly, Cruella DeVille, Liberace, Freddie Mercury and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s child catcher rolled into one.
Thankfully End Of The Tunnel – more likely light at the end of the tunnel – brings closure with a glimmer of hope. A case of what doesn’t kill you makes you more strong. By Name. By Nature. is the veritable rollercoaster. A passionate extravaganza yet with a genuine emotional clout.
Listen to the title track here: