John Wesley’s new album features a flaming man on the cover. Don’t worry, no one was burned during the making of a way you’ll never be. That said, one imagines Wesley singed his fingers on the fretboard during the scorching title track. His bandmates, drummer Mark Prator and bassist Sean Malone, navigate hairpin turns during the song’s lengthy instrumental interplay, often reminiscent of Rush’s Natural Science. Wesley even emulates Alex Lifeson’s solo guitar sound.
Indeed, Wesley says his ninth album was inspired by the guitar music of the 70s, yet these 10 tracks seldom sound like classic rock. If anything, Wesley opts for an approach closer to 90s grunge on hooky songs such as By Light Of A Sun and sun.a.rose. Wesley’s lyrics are sometimes enigmatic, sometimes direct. For example, The Revolutionist offers an acerbic response to an intellectual overheard in a coffee shop: ‘Beard, beret, on an eighty dollar shirt/Crimson hero or cigar advert/If Che were here/He would have had your head.’ There are tender songs, too, such as the acoustic-flavoured Nada. During To Outrun the Light, Wesley plays his most majestic guitar solo ever. The man’s on fire.