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Craig Payne - Album Review: Never Say Never

23 Aug 2023 // A review by OLDER

Craig Payne – born in France, formative years lived in the UK and now very much resident in Christchurch has a new 10-track album out on November 5th (2023) titled Never Say Never.

Reading Craig’s back story, it becomes immediately clear he has been a very prolific artist over nearly five decades both playing live and recording. He has released many albums in his career. However, somewhere along the line he made the creative decision to delete his digital back catalogue and start afresh and so this appears to be the latest in four albums available from him at this time.

Craig describes himself as a multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter and from what I can gleam his latest album is entirely self-written, played, sung, recorded, and produced. He cites his influences as very much grounded in the 60's and 70's – Hank Marvin, Gerry Marsden, The Beatles, Jeff Beck et al. He sits in that classic rock ‘n’ roll space so epitomised by that era.

The album actually opens with an instrumental titled Hanks Theme which Craig says was inspired by Mr Marvin himself. At first I thought it an interesting choice to open an album with an instrumental as it doesn’t showcase Craig’s vocals for new listeners, but after a few spins of the album as a whole I realised this is an artist perfectly confident in his ability to deliver and entirely comfortable to leave his singing to the second track. There is no hurrying here. That’s what a lifetime of experience brings. As it happens, opening with an instrumental can work rather well.

Primitive Man follows with an open spacious sound that would really suit late-night driving. Every album has a ‘sound’, and the art of production is to ensure all the songs on an album fit together. Craig does this very well. His ‘sound’ is very simple with minimal instrumental overdubs and a good layer of slapback reverb on the drums, guitars and especially the vocals. You can hear the late 60's to early 70's influence coming though.

Once For You gets swinging with its 12-bar blues progression and walking bass you feel like you have walked into a live show. Especially with headphones on it’s easy to imagine being in a pub or club on a Saturday night watching a live band.

As the album progresses it’s clear Craig knows exactly what he is doing with his production style and sticks to it to make a cohesive recording that is one of the most ‘live sounding’ studio recordings I have heard in a while.

I’m Not Giving The Game Away shows how accurate he is with vocal doubling. He is equally as skilled at harmonising to himself on select songs, something I adore in vocal production.

Below The Morning Sun, track 5 and so halfway through the album, is a stand-out for me. Craig takes the tempo and mood down a couple of notches with a reflective number supporting great vocals and a summer garden vibe. I’m hearing Travelling Wilburys here and some McCartney inspired bass.

Slow Down follows with some great backing vocals and another groove that just picks you up and takes you along for the ride.

Craig really knows how to pull in the past in a new way - Never Ask Me Why is George Harrison to a tee, but of course in Craig’s own style. Throughout the album the musicianship is nailed to be just what is required at the right time. It is not over-produced which in itself is refreshing to hear.

Never Say Never is an album that will find a wide audience with anyone who likes their rock ’n’ roll upbeat, simple (in a good way) and honest. There are lashings of sounds you will be familiar with, but all served up in a new way - Craig’s way. An album worth checking out and loading up on your playlist for road trips this summer.


About Craig Payne

For full bio, news, tracks, releases and to sign up for our newsletter please visit www.craigpaynemusic.org

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Craig Payne


Face The Music
Year: 2024
Type: Album
I'm Not Giving The Game Away
Year: 2021
Type: Album
A Long Time Coming
Year: 2021
Type: Album

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