The China Crisis singer’s solo debut is an unexpected, understated gem that also serves to remind us how neglected his band’s been in some quarters…

Gary Daly

It’s the quiet ones you’ve got to watch, but that assumes they’re on your radar. Few would have expected one of 2019’s loveliest records to arrive via Gary Daly, whose band has been treated so poorly by history you may need a reminder he’s the singer for China Crisis. Gone From Here, however, is one of those albums that whispers to you, its tone at first so gentle you don’t realise how agreeable it is. That’s until you notice the silence which follows leaves you with an aching sense that a good friend is suddenly missing.

Its roots in the 80s are unquestionable: Roland Juno-60s, Yamaha DX7s and Korg PolySixes, crucial to China Crisis, are conspicuous, sometimes guilty pleasures.But Daly’s songs are ageless, like, say, Terry Hall’s (not least Low Tide’s autumnal Colourfield echoes), Stephen Duffy’s (especially Of Make Do And Mend’s baroque pastoralism), or even – though Daly’s notably more ‘English’ – Neil Finn’s. That, perhaps, is why he’s never enjoyed the same degree of credibility as fellow Liverpool graduates The Teardrop Explodes or Echo & The Bunnymen: China Crisis never defined their era.

Still, Time It Takes boasts Steely Dan’s poised discipline, its guitar solos unusually restrained, and the empathetic In The Cloudy Domain’s like The Blue Nile working with an orchestra instead of synths. I Work Alone’s Casiotone rhythm accentuates its intimacy, Dead Of Night shimmers like the Milky Way, and, in Anthony, there’s even a pretty tribute to Anthony ‘Anohni’ Hegarty.

The title track, furthermore, finds Daly’s voice cracking as he sings with pathos of lost friends, but possibly more poignant still is Carousel Of Stars, featuring John Campbell of another underrated early 80s Liverpool act, It’s Immaterial. Offering a tantalising hint of what to expect on their forthcoming comeback, it finds the Driving Away From Home frontman take to his feet for a hushed, magical exploration of life’s possibilities.

Admittedly, Gone From Here is somewhat polite, but its strength lies in his emotional frankness and melodic mastery. In fact, though his delivery is so unassuming you’ll need to replay it, you’ll hear Daly’s aesthetic summarised on the impossibly sweet Write Your Wrongs: “Say what you want/ But just don’t be a c*nt”. That you’ll find yourself singing these words for days underlines his achievements.

9/10

Wyndham Wallace

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