Review: Marti Pellow – “Stargazer”

While he is perhaps best known as the frontman of the iconic Wet Wet Wet, Marti Pellow is back with new music and his latest solo album, Stargazer however, what I think most people don’t seem to realise about Marti Pellow is that he’s actually released more material on his own at this point in his career than he ever did as part of the band with this latest entry to his catalogue being his 12th release as a solo artist.

You’ll be hard pushed to find anyone not familiar with Pellow’s work as part of Wet Wet Wet and outside of the band he is probably most recognisable these days for his time spent on stage in the West End and Broadway. As such, a lot of his solo material has went unnoticed by the mainstream which is a shame.

However, if Stargazer is your first foray into Pellow’s solo career and you come in expecting something similar to early years Wet Wet Wet you may be disappointed with the more mature sound on display here.

We start off strong with the title track, Stargazer. A slow burn track that eases you into a more soulful sound than you may be used to from Marti Pellow and rest assured, if you had any concern about the man’s singing ability, I promise you the man can still deliver. His voice has not aged.

Next up, we have New York Angel, a track that wouldn’t go amiss on a 70’s or 80s’s era David Bowie album and even Pellow’s vocal work is reminiscent of Bowie of when his voices enters that lower register in the verses. However, his vocal work Don’t Be Scared could be easily comparable to Angel Eyes from Wet Wet Wet’s debut Popped In, Souled Out way back in 1987.

Hey You delivers that big chorus you want to sing along with while Teenage Rebel is a true delight to listen to but it’s with Diamond that the album slows down a little for me unfortunately.

Something about the track just doesn’t click for me, despite the powerful message in the lyrics. It could be the placement of the track slotting in just behind Teenage Rebel and before Urban Alligator but it seems to bring the album’s momentum to a halt. While not necessarily a bad track, it could maybe have benefitted from being elsewhere in the running order.

Urban Alligator, It’s OK and Mystic Wonderland are more of the same from what has come before. A mixture of upbeat pop songs with a soulful undertone before heading back into the best ballad on the album, Love Me Tonight and my personal highlight, When We Were Lovers.

Oddly enough though, These Are the Days, which is the lead single from the album, is the second to last track which, I personally, would have maybe swapped over with Diamond. We then finish the album off with Black Horse which clocks in at a whopping 11mins and once again I can feel that mid 70’s Bowie sound oozing through. While some of that Bowie-esque sound can be heard throughout the album, Black Horse in particular has a little Fame feel to it and it finishes the album off strong with a blend of soul and funk rock.

All in all, if you’re a fan of Marti Pellow’s solo material thus far, there’s no reason not give this a shot and although it may be a harder sell to old school Wet Wet Wet fans, I still think there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had here plus at the end of the day what do you really have to lose? My biggest concern with this release is that I don’t think there’s anything here that’ll see Marti Pellow win over any new fans.

by Edward Laing