Jeff Lynne' ELO, "Alone In the Universe" (Columbia)
If it sounds like ELO, feels like ELO and plays like ELO, then it must be "Alone In the Universe" by Jeff Lynne's ELO, as it is now called.
Branding strategies aside, Lynne has long personified the Electric Light Orchestra and his first new songs under a similar tag since 2001's overlooked "Zoom" instantly reveal his trademarks — melodic meticulousness, layers of vocals, sundry Beatle-isms and a tint of melancholy even on the fast tracks.
Except for some backing vocals by daughter Laura and recording engineer Steve Jay's tambourine and shakers, Lynne is truly alone in his universe.
Some of the 10 tunes would have fit nicely on albums by others he's produced, including "I'm Leaving You" (George Harrison), "Dirty to the Bone" (Tom Petty) and "All My Life" (Roy Orbison). Nearly all are evocative of ELO's 1970s output, but with the bombast turned down from 11.
On lead single "When I Was A Boy," Lynne pulls back the curtain to reveal his childhood dreams of making it in music, not wanting to "work on the milk or the bread," an amiable revelation from one of rock's more reticent frontmen.
When ELO was a band at its peak, it released an album a year. Though few work at that pace anymore, hopefully we won't have to wait 15 years for Lynne's next set of originals, no matter whose name is on the cover.
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