Taking time out from his daytime job as keyboard player with Mostly Autumn, Iain Jennings has come up with a multi-faceted, thoughtful solo album. My Dark Surprise has a sci-fi concept based around themes of identity and reality, and it works because Jennings is bold enough to try different musical ideas.
The title track has a very modern approach, even offering hints of R&B and colourful saxophone touches from James Russell. Stand Inside The Shadow uses a funky bass line to underpin driving hard-rock passion, while A Choice To Make A Change is hauntingly introspective.
Throughout, Jennings varies the pace and style of his music, while vocalist Mark Chatterton has written some intriguing, thought- provoking lyrics. Other Mostly Autumn members make the occasional appearance (such as guitarist Liam Davison), but at no point does this sound like an ersatz version of that band. The album climaxes with the brilliant juxtaposition of the blazing Nowhere In My Head, the delicate A Mirror Of Me and the dark Just Your Genetic.
This fascinating, cunningly weaved album leaves you with the nagging feeling that we really can’t escape our fate. Art, then…