You know that feeling when one of your favourite bands comes to end? Yeah that feeling of “What now?”, “Surely not?” and emotions for some of the more musically obsessed amongst us that feel like a kind of bereavement. Well I can still remember the day when Little Angels came to an end. The thing is Little Angels were the band I wanted mine to be and we had two of their songs in our set (started with “She’s a Little Angel”). Successful, talented, popular, great runs of shows and, most of, songs that really resonated with me. Without a doubt, for a child of the 80s hair/glam metal scene, Little Angels were the first British band to really make me sit up and take notice and demonstrate that you didn’t have to me from Hollywood and swagger round the Sunset Strip – Scarborough was just, if not more, relevant to me. However, as I say, the party ended and they were no more. Toby Jepson did a number of solo projects over the years that were great, the all to brief reunion was something magical but then what?
Wayward Sons began life early in 2016 after Italian Record label Frontiers approached Toby Jepson with the idea of making a solo album. This was not something that initially rang true with Toby having spent most of his career as a British Rock musician in bands. From the early days of Little Angels, through Toby and The Whole Truth, The Toby Jepson band in the early noughties, into GUN, Fastway and Dio’s Disciples, it had always been about bands, groups of people joining together to say something, to create together, to perform together. The answer, at first, was ‘thanks, but no thanks’
But Frontiers kept the conversation open, and slowly the idea took root in Toby’s mind enough to start tentative conversations with other musicians. Why was it such a difficult a decision? Toby will tell you that he had no intention of making new music without the right ‘feel good’ situation, without the desire from all to fully commit to something that felt relevant, passionate and rooted in a song centric approach. This HAD to be a re-birth, a solid step forward and not a re-treading of old steps. Besides, he knew the fans would see through it. This was back to the drawing board. No compromise.
Around 12 months ago, social media began to spot stirrings – Toby was putting a band together. Wayward Sons (a hark back to the Little Angels? Only time would tell). Snippets of news came along and this was something that Toby was clearly REALLy excited about (as, one would hope, any writer would be) and the more I heard, the more excited I became. Could the reality match the anticipation? How would the passage of time and the Ghosts of Albums/Tours past shine through?
First listen was uninterrupted and totally took my breath away. So much so that I listened, on repeat for about 4 hours! YEs, this album is that good. Not just first listen either, day after day, one run through was never enough. Normally guitars are first for me but this was the whole thing. I can’t remember the last time that happened. Each track has a spirit of its own – some with lyrics that convey an anger at the world we live in today, but not just anger there is also hope. Hope that if enough of us could see the craziness and act …. well, who knows?
The other staggering thing about this record is that each time I listen, different songs jump out and grab me. From the opening blast of “Alive” through to closer “Small Talk”,there are nuances that impact differently each listen. Even more impressively, this is a record that saves two of my favourite songs right to the closing three. “Be Still” and “Small Talk” are the songs that jumped out as my favourites of the whole album – but, as I say,the album as a whole is so strong you couldn’t help to think “where has this been hiding”