Slow Dancer is the perfect name for Simon Okely's bedroom soft rock project. Another good name would have been Night Dancer, or maybe What Happens When You Are Half Christopher Cross and Half Van Morrison. On the second Slow Dancer album, In a Mood, Okely does a fine job of combining Van's flowing style of lyrical balladry with a soft rocker's ease and sweet smoothness to come up with something almost painfully tender and softer than high-thread-count sheets. Playing everything himself and singing in a voice that's soulfully powerful while still being quiet enough to never wake the neighbors, Okely crafts a sound that's rich and organic on In a Mood, with warm electric keys, lightly distorted electric guitars, and politely tapped drums coming together to give his voice a comforting web of sound to fall back upon. It's nothing new and In a Mood is almost too nostalgic in some spots, but mostly Okely is able to give his retro sound enough personality to own it completely. He never sinks too deeply into the woodwork, even as he sets an unfailingly relaxed mood. There are plenty of songs that have sneakily effective hooks, like the swooning chorus of "It Goes On" and the snaky guitar lines of "Don't Believe." Okely channels Van most effectively on "I Would," with some seriously bubbly bass playing, a lightly sawing string section, and a cinematically sweeping vocal line. Not in felonious fashion; more like Okely has fully ingested the teachings of Morrison and is able to re-create them in his own idiosyncratic way. Other bards who have taught the young lad well are Steely Dan ("Bitter"), America ("I Was Often"), and every late-night crooner of the '70s (the title track). In a Mood is an unassuming treat of an album, and Okely proves himself to be one of the top modern practitioners of this very old, very tired-in-the-wrong-hands sound. In his hands, it feels fresh and vital, as the album is as good as anything that came out in the first wave of soft rock. ~ Tim Sendra
Pitchfork (Website) - "[A] collection of crooning seduction, pop songwriting, and lush production. The breezy spirit of Laurel Canyon hovers around the album in a powerful way."
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