Album Review

Ross Jennings – A Shadow Of My Future Self: Album feature

Ross Jennings – singer of Haken and more – takes a confident step onto the solo path.

19th November 2021 is the date to mark in your diaries. Ross Jennings of Prog metal giants Haken (and Novena, Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress and his latest link up with Neal Morse and Nick D’Virgilio) releases A Shadow Of My Former Self on Graphite Records. Digital, CD and vinyl (included a lovely coloured option – already ordered…) are available fo what we can promise is a superb album.

It’s an album that takes him well away from what you might expect from the day job and give a deeper insight into his influences and indeed his own record collection. His love for American AOR and mainstream ‘90s MTV arena rock, his passion for modern Indie/pop such as Coldplay, U2 & R.E.M., and even his affinity with the Nashville Country music scene – the result is A Shadow Of My Future Self.

ross jennings

Having had the good fortune to be able to wallow in the songs a good month ahead of official release, we can report that it’s a fabulous piece of work. An absolute beaut. Yes, it’s far removed from the Prog Metal battering you’ll get from Haken, but I guess all the better for that. A glimpse of his future self – and he’d have a nice little solo career judging by the evidence – and the other side of Ross Jennings, those influences mentioned come thick and fast and there’s some classy songwriting and playing without straying down the MOR path.

Many boxes are ticked, many parts played as the gentle opening of Ross + acoustic guitar not only whets the appetite for a forthcoming handful solo dates, but starts the ball rolling on what to expect next. Not least, the influences of that oft derided decade known as ‘The Eighties’ (already acknowledged on Haken’s Affinity) has a strong role in the arrangements, be it Beverley Hills Cop styling or jittering New Wave/New Romanticisms.

Rocket Science and Catcher In The Rye are cool and smooth, the latter a Summery and reflective tune and lyric – “we’re never getting back the time we lost” while the embellished acoustics and string arrangement give Since That Day an uplifting momentum. Third Degree has a lovely folky feel and the sort of swinging chorus that you can’t help but bite. I can imagine it being sung by Kate Rusby (in Folk mode) or by Damian Wilson) in full singer songwriter mode).

However, and it’s a big HOWEVER… The Phoenix is going to be one of my tracks of the year. The title gives all the clues about the eleven minute (that passes by in an instant) magnum opus that might possibly offer a gateway to the Steven Wilson fans who feel their hero might have lost the plot with his recent work. Worth the admission price alone – you can roll out all the cliches – even when the track suddenly swings wildly into a hand clapping, rabble rousing, gospel interlude. The hope is that he’ll appreciate us noting that it’s the sort of switchback that the wonderous Jon Anderson would make. Not a bad comparison in our books.

Tour dates include a must see (for us anyway…) on Friday 19th November at The Factory Manchester

Meanwhile, here’s the video for the excellent Grounded. “I was aiming for something along the lines of Nothing Compares 2U meets Shine On You Crazy Diamond so that was intentional, but I feel like I was able to put my own stamp on it too,” he says. A song about “a skeptic having a spiritual experience and opening up to the possibilities of a higher power or a higher purpose, but also someone who is simply reconnecting with nature and learning to find stillness in a chaotic life.”

Ross Jennings online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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